High-tech antirape devices shown as art

An artist transforms the horrors of sexual assault into a shocking exhibit.

Published January 21, 2006 12:56AM (EST)

The titles of these elaborate pieces of personal armor are likely to unsettle even the strongest of stomachs: "Saber Tooth Speculum," "Bear Trap Corset" and "Intimate Electric Fence."

These antirape devices are part of an exhibit titled "Impenetrable Devices" at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tenn. Ira Sherman created the 16 devices, made mostly from steel, brass and electrical wiring, which are intended as a provocative artistic statement, rather than for actual use.

Sherman interviewed five victims of rape -- one man and four women -- who all expressed the desire to feel safe again.

"When you talk with someone who's been raped, you start getting details that are just horrifying. That horror I transform into my work," Sherman told the Associated Press.

The result are pieces like "The Injector," which can be worn around the hips and employs hypodermic needles that shoot tattoo dye and sedatives into a rapist, immobilizing the attacker and making him identifiable. Another device uses video surveillance to record a possible attack.

"They all said, 'I want to be secure. I want to be behind a security fence,'" Sherman said.

While certainly disturbing, Sherman said that the beauty and intricacy of his work lend it a redemptive quality. Do Broadsheet readers agree?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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