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Potent images that shine a light on domestic abuse – in pictures | Art and design

Potent images that shine a light on domestic abuse – in pictures | Art and design
Potent images that shine a light on domestic abuse – in pictures | Art and design

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Lingchi, or “death by a thousand cuts”, was a particularly brutal form of execution practised in Asia in ancient times: the condemned person was tied to a post and body parts were slowly sliced off one by one. The Indian-born photographer Sujata Setia uses this barbaric practice in her series A Thousand Cuts as a potent metaphor for a different kind of brutality – domestic abuse. In collaboration with the charity Shewise, Setia spent two years photographing survivors of abuse among the UK’s south Asian community. Using saanjhi, the Indian art of paper-cutting, she makes vivid red cuts in her portraits to express her subjects’ anguish: “I wanted to show how the scars are not only external but internal,” she says. Having grown up witnessing domestic violence, Setia initially resisted turning the camera on herself. “But there came a point where I realised I had to own my own scars.” Taking her own portrait and placing it alongside the others in the series has been “absolutely the most healing process,” she says.

Setia is the winner of the creative category of the Sony world photography awards 2024, professional competition. The 2024 awards book is available to buy at worldphoto.org. In the UK, the national domestic abuse helpline is 0808 2000 247, or visit womensaid.org.uk

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