by Maria Sofou

Melissa Smyth‘s photo series, Lay Lady Lay, consists of 18 self-portraits taken with Fujifilm FP-100C instant film. Each photograph is preluded by lyrics from Bob Dylan’s song Lay Lady Lay and subtitled with text messages sent to her from her rapist. The viewer enters Smyth’s world in 3 different layers: the song, the painful, dark portraits and at last, the disturbing rapist’s texts. Smyth’s work is genuine, raw and most importantly honest as she unravels her personal battles.

The series explores the deeply complex and -unfortunately- often unspoken issue of sexual abuse, emphasizing on the strength it takes to overcome it: “I use photography to understand and express the ways in which looking and desiring can make an object of the body, and the ways in which images can be used to resist this. To photograph my own body allows me to not only reclaim control over my self-image, but also to comment upon the objectification that occurs though forceful violence and emotional manipulation. The project ultimately is not about my rapist’s actions, but about my strength and growth. I’ve been inspired by other survivors of sexual abuse and gender-based violence, and hope to add to the voices speaking in solidarity and in strength for all of our liberation,” the artist explains.

A truly powerful and unique work. See it here: