One positive that many gleam from the otherwise draining reality of the pandemic is having fathoms more time to spend with loved ones. While it may get tiresome at points or heighten some arguments, a lot of people have enjoyed the quality time that this situation has afforded them. But not everyone’s home situation is a healthy one, and for the victims of ongoing spousal abuse, the increased time isolated with their partner can go from traumatic to deadly. An exhibit is highlighting this exact issue in Saskatoon, Canada- entitled To Whom It May Concern, it is a collection of photos and stories related to the issue presented by Natalie Feheregyhazi, who is better known as The Masked Bride.
Feheregyhazi is no stranger to confronting the issues of spousal abuse. She has travelled the world with her performance piece that earned her the moniker of The Masked Bride. In the piece, she travels to public spaces adorned in a wedding dress and neutral mask, then writes out letters with true stories of abuse. Travelling across North America, Europe, and Africa with this piece, Feheregyhazi had remained anonymous the entire time- largely, she says, so that these tales of abuse wouldn’t connect back to those who suffered from them or their perpetrators.
The original project came about around the time Feheregyhazi had been leaving her own dangerous long-term relationship, as well as after receiving a painting from a friend originally given to a woman, Beverly Littlecrow, who was murdered by her spouse. To Whom It May Concern and the core of this endeavour by Feheregyhazi seek to highlight the fact that many who are abused hold great love for their abusers, making for complicated situations that are hard to leave. And with her travels, she connected with many women and men about their stories relating to abuse, likely thanks to the silent and non-participatory nature of the piece.
After having spent so long anonymous as The Masked Bride, with To Whom It May Concern Feheregyhazi finally has decided to attach her name to the endeavour. Utilizing photos and letters in public viewing space, Feheregyhazi is drawing attention to several women who have died due to spousal abuse over the past year. She highlights not only the ongoing and often secret nature of these difficulties but also the fact that things are worse than ever for those who have suffered these abuses, especially in a society that has grown so accustomed to this violence.
Anonymity can be a powerful tool for connection- Feheregyhazi’s role as The Masked Bride undoubtedly has helped her not only tell a universal narrative but has allowed her to connect with women and any sufferers of domestic abuse. But it is also commendable to see an artist put away that power and allow their own identity to be vulnerable in order to lend that power to others. Whether it be through her world travelling journey or through exhibits like To Whom It May Concern, she shows great strength as an artist and as an individual in giving voice to the voiceless and making these stories heard.