In 1977, Woman's Building member Suzanne Lacy created Three Weeks In May to counter what she felt were sensationalized depictions of rape by the media that emphasized the lurid sexual details of the crimes to attract viewers. She organized a large-scale conceptual piece that consisted of three components. An installation in the City Mall Plaza adjacent to Los Angeles City Hall consisted of two 25-foot maps of Los Angeles. On the first map, Lacy marked the locations of reported rapes with a big red "RAPE" stamp. To counterbalance this image of women's victimization, Lacy created a second map that indicated the locations of support services for women, such as rape crisis centers and rape hotlines. A second component of Three Weeks in May involved facilitating a network of the various groups in Los Angeles that worked to address the issue of rape. Participants organized different kinds of events throughout the city during the three-week period. Representatives of the collaborating institutions also met at a dinner to encourage them to make contacts that would endure beyond Three Weeks In May. The final aspect of the project was a performance art series about rape held over four consecutive days at lunchtime in the City Mall Plaza. In keeping with the desire to bring together groups fighting against rape, Leslie Labowitz created these pieces in collaboration with members of the local groups Women Against Rape, Men Against Rape, and the Los Angeles Men's Collective.
The conceptual framework Lacy developed for Three Weeks in May influenced her future work and that of other Woman's Building members. She selected a significant public location to create greater public awareness about the issue. In this case, the location of the City Mall Plaza proved appropriate as police headquarters was located adjacent to city hall and because it is a visible site of the power of the state. Second, from a pragmatic standpoint, the media was also quite accessible at city hall and press coverage was a large part of the piece. Finally, Three Weeks In May created networks that proved useful in future projects. These contacts included those in city hall that Lacy made in order to secure permission to use the location; in the Los Angeles Police Department, which assigned an information officer to work with her, and among activists across the city who worked to address violence against women.
Map installation for Three Weeks in May, City Mall Plaza, Los Angeles, 1977.
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