My “Death Sentence” was originally created in 2008 and was influenced by the Pro-Life Nation article in the New York Times Magazine, August 2006. The article details events that were taking place in El Salvador in the 1990s after the civil war ended. Abortion was banned in every circumstance, including rape & incest and if the health of the mother were endangered. Unlike many other countries with similar laws, El Salvador employed active law enforcement to ensure that the ban was enacted.
The laws affected primarily low- to mid-income women & non-binary folx who didn’t have the means to seek abortions elsewhere in the world from clinics in other countries. Women who sought abortions, their accomplices, the abortion providers, and doctors & nurses who fail to report them were all treated as criminals with heavy penalties and jail time hanging over their heads. Medical procedures placed the survival of the fetus at utmost importance regardless of circumstance.
A woman who sought an abortion could face anywhere from 2 to 30+ years of jail time if the case was classified as an aggravated homicide. Back alley abortions that utilized ulcer medications, pesticides, coat hangers, and/or other methods or substances became the norm, and those women whose lives were endangered after back alley abortions went badly were hesitant to seek medical help out of fear.
Although fictitious, the events described in my art could easily happen and likely have in nations like El Salvador. Some variants include rubber fetuses intended for distribution by protesters outside of abortion clinics. The addition of my menstrual blood is meant to create a more visceral connection to the circumstances described and to relate to it on a more personal level so that I, and hopefully viewers as well, can better understand its implications.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. Much of her work touches on themes of beauty, identity (especially gender identity), memory & forgetting, and institutional critique. Weigel’s art has been exhibited nationally in all 50 states and has won numerous awards.
© Jennifer Weigel