Alexandra K Dietz is an international photographer currently based in Costa Rica, whose work has been focused on exploring culture, identity, and intimacy, for the past 15-years. Women’s experiences have been her main inspiration. The aesthetic of her photos possesses an organic familiarity achieved through conversation and mutual confiding.
A Serpent’s Voice is a multimedia photo series about queer women’s experiences of sexual assault. Each participant tells their story while also shedding a metaphorical “skin” (liquid latex) symbolizing healing, liberation from trauma, and renewal.
Those of us who have been sexually assaulted often have out-of-body experiences. The violence we have gone through leaves us feeling disconnected with a lack of autonomy over our physical selves. To symbolize this sense of physical alienation, participants are coated in 3 layers of liquid latex representing the abuse and pain carried for years. It is a cathartic process that captures a moment of reflection and empowerment.
“The child my mother had before me was a product of rape and I think I was carrying her pain and sorrow from that child. So my first experience with trauma was through the womb of my mother.”
“He choked me unconscious… When he finished, I stood up but I was in shock. He just seemed neutral or happy even… I tried to go to work the next day but had to leave for the first time in years. I couldn’t swallow. It wasn’t until my friend used the word rape that I felt everything.”
“No one was paying any attention… I just remember I looked over at one point and there was this dead dog in a cage and I was like, I’m going to die under this underpass and everyone is just going to be like, Oh Ashley she shouldn’t have gone to Cairo.”
“Two weeks is how long I knew the first guy, 7 years is how long I knew the second guy… You can never tell.”
“He was suffocating me and I instinctively knew I can’t make a sound or he’ll kill me. I saw a figure sort of open the door, then close the door and walk away. In that moment I knew nobody cares what happens to me. I was 8 years old.”
“I grew up in Mexico and there was a candy man who welcomed me inside his house to see the candies. That’s when he approached me more physically, more personal. He made me get undressed. I feel like I was doing something really bad but didn’t have any choice other than to just keep going. I was 11 years old at that moment,”
“I remember thinking how does the person next door not know this is happening to me? How does the person upstairs not know? … Of course I understand they couldn’t have, but what makes me really mad is when people do know and do nothing.”
I’m an empathetic human who had all her rights taken away at 4 years old, but I’m not the abuse that happened to me… I continue to shed the skin I came in with and the things that no longer serve my body, mind, and spirit. I’m standing up saying, -Yes, I cut myself because I didn’t know what else to do.
“I think about the clothes I wore, like a lot… I thought I definitely looked cute, maybe a little flirty, but not like rape me please…”