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The Book of Love and Mutilation…
Slawomir Rumiak

When many people first lay eyes on Slawomir Rumiak‘s photography, what they see is misogyny; pleasure taken in the torturing of women and mutilating of their bodies. What Rumiak claims to be doing with his book of disturbing and macabre portraits is facilitating discussion, The Book of Love: The Best of My Dreams – and there is no doubt that such photographs provoke heated debate (and they’re not Photoshopped btw – it’s all done in the darkroom). I think each individual will see what thoughts or feelings first jump to her or his mind due to experience. While no doubt these photos may have a cruel and misogynistic appeal, to me, I identify with the subject in a broader sense – a woman who is smiling through pain and torture, who is harmed and even murdered inside and out. This is what the cultures of the world do to women, in varying degrees of reality. This is what women are encouraged, even brainwashed, to do to themselves. If you look at these images on their face, they are disgusting; if you look beyond what they eye sees to the whole, they become a multilayered thing, concept upon concept, emotion upon emotion. Historically, women have learned to smile, love, laugh through the worst treatment and denial of the most basic rights enjoyed by men. Their brains have been, and still are in most cases, wrapped in barbed wire, trapped by fear, their souls stabbed and mutilated by cultures that have told them they were wrong from inception. Women grow into beautiful creatures despite this, covered internally and externally with scars, continuing our species, imposing the fears and punishments on their own daughters in order to ameliorate the pain, suffering and violence they will inevitably face. This is where my brain goes when I look at Slawomir Rumiak’s portraits. What do you see?

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Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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