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Staged Photo Series Reveals the Reality of Sexual Assault

20-year-old college student Yana Mazurkevich responds to Stanford rapist Brock Turner’s release with photography series, 'It Happens.'

by Nathaniel Ainley
Sep 8 2016, 3:55pm

Images courtesy the artist

The images in this article may be upsetting for some readers. 

Following the release of Stanford rapist Brock Turner last Friday, a 20-year-old photographer named Yana Mazurkevich is speaking out with a series of staged photographs that depict raw and sordid scenes of sexual assault. Mazurkevich developed the series in conjunction with Current Solutions, an online platform that allows victims of gender inequity, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault, to share their stories safely. Each scene in Mazurkevich’s series is based on real accounts of assault, submitted anonymously through Current Solutions' website. The individual pictures are captioned with quotes taken from victim’s stories.

It is important to note that the people in the photographs are not the survivors themselves, but volunteer models, and not all the quotes directly correspond to their depicted image. Instead, the title of the series, It Happens, alludes to Mazurkevich’s effort to spread awareness and portray some of the lesser recognized incidents of sexual assault. “Things like this happen every day, to absolutely anyone, and it's an issue the world overlooks. It happens,” Mazurkevich tells The Creators Project. Her photographs have been recognized for their vivid and raw quality, garnering more than 110,000 notes on Tumblr and 60,000 shares on Facebook.

The photographer aimed to inject realism into her pictures because, “sexual assault is not supposed to be comfortable or easy to talk about. These are meant to be raw images, because they're real [experiences].” The conceivable centerpiece of the series, shown above, is a recreation of Turner’s assault on an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in January 2015. The picture is attached to a section of the statement the 23-year-old victim delivered to Turner in court—a written account detailing the impact of the assault that later went viral when it was published online.

It Happens is the second project Mazurkevich has done with Current Solutions. The first series, Dear Brock Turnerwas framed as a sort of open letter, a compilation of portraits whose subjects hold victim-blaming statements.

Check out the project’s original Facebook post here. For more work by Yana Mazurkevich, head over to her website, and to find out more about Current Solutions, head over to their website.

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Brock Turner
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staged photography