Matt Higgs is a 25 year old 4th year fine art student majoring in digital photography in Cork. His work centres around issues of domestic abuse in Ireland towards women and the stigma that exists around male victims as a result of its cultural norms; such as toxic masculinity. Matt Discussed his photography with The Jumble Magazine:
“The bright colours of my images are symbolic of the outward appearance of what domestic relationships may look like to an outsider, while the actual narrative is more obvious. Using colour theory, I aim to evoke certain emotions and feelings that may contradict the context of the images. It’s this juxtaposition that creates the visual tension to the viewer.”
I’ve taken a commercial approach to not only the creation of the individual pieces, but the entire installation itself – this is a comment of media- representation, or more lack of, to the issue of domestic abuse within Ireland. Some of these pieces are influenced by real-life stories of domestic abuse victims – through the visual language of colour theory, metaphor, body language/morphing, expression, make-up and text, I seek to emphasize details of the relationship between abuser and victim.
seven to twelve
The backward clock is a metaphor for the irregularity of passage of time in a relationship of abuse. Research says that a victim of abuse will attempt to leave their abusive relationship seven to twelve times before they leave for the final time.
(021) 427 7698
The telephone is a metaphor for communication and connection, or more the lack of in a relationship where domestic abuse is active. The number is the helpline for WomensAid.ie
Since lock down began in March, WomensAid helplines have seen a massive increase in victims calling the helpline – an average of 57 people are calling each day (96% women of the calls were women / 20% of the calls concerning children). This lock down is a worst case scenario for domestic violence victims.
Based on a real life story in which the victim’s husband hid her passport, stole her credit cards and proceeded to give her a weekly allowance – just enough to survive but not enough to save money and run away. The passport is faded in the photo. Her expression, body language, and morphed body parts – like the horns, finger nails, and pointed shoulder – are a metaphor for how the victim was made out to be “the devil in disguise” to their friend circles (quote of the abusive husband).
A socio-culture in which men are expected to ‘man up’ in emotionally tough situations – plays with issues of toxic masculinity and the stigmas that surround men as victims.
“When I was a child, after a fight in the house I would go to my room crying. Finding the courage to leave my room again, my parents would pretend like nothing happened – we wouldn’t discuss anything. Nothing. It gave me a skewed concept of emotions – that they were for behind closed doors.” – an excerpt from one of my diary entries from a few months ago
Represents an artificial intimacy between couples and how this relationship may appear to outsiders. The ridged tightly clasped hands with their neutral relaxed poses plays with the juxtaposition of a forced relationship. Both are victims and abusers.