Rowan Renee is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work deals with gender, transgression, and male violence. Their 2016 series Bodies of Wood is presented at Aperture as the centerpiece of a weekend-long collaboration with the Ackerman Institute for the Family and The Voices and Faces Project and explores the role of art-making and storytelling as vehicles to address gender-based violence. Chris Boot, executive director of Aperture Foundation, recently spoke with Renee about the project.

Chris Boot: Can you tell us the story behind your project Bodies of Wood?

Rowan Renee: “Bodies of Wood” is a collection of images made from a place deep within that needs to speak. The drive to make it was urgent, both a longing to access something that was very essential to understanding who I am, but also that this was something that needed to be talked about publicly in order to heal. The taboo of incest in our society is not so much about the violent act itself; it is common and the perpetrators are rarely convicted. The taboo is talking about it. And I think that is because to talk about it, we have to look honestly at a myriad of broken institutions, of false narratives, of interlocking systems of injustice that work together to oppress people.

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