Filmmaker, artist, talent manager, and Mastermind Honorable Mention Cat Del Buono has been a tireless advocate of women's equality for years. Recent projects Miamians may remember include her poster campaign for small boobs plastered through Wynwood and her video, "How Not to Get Raped," a response to the backwards tips from Cosmopolitan magazine, the University of Colorado, and other sources on how college women could prevent attacks.
Bouncing between Miami, New York, and L.A., Del Buono and her artist collective, ReFemme, are making waves with their ongoing "Vanity Unfair" project, where flash mobs walk wearing exaggerated "enhancements" made of balloons and red wax lips, acknowledging the absurdity of Miami's obsession with plastic surgery. Del Buono's most recent endeavor, "Voices," also began in Miami. The exhibition displays several monitors of women speaking simultaneously, recounting varied experiences of domestic abuse. She began interviewing women for the video installation months ago at the Lodge, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
"The interesting thing is that this whole Ray Rice thing has come out, and that's basically what the whole project is about," Del Buono told New Times. "I spoke to the women there and filmed only their mouths...It's called 'Voices,' a project specifically to let them have a voice, because there's so many women out there we don't even realize are going through this. The whole point is to let them be vocal about it."
After interviewing people in Miami, Del Buono spoke with women in New York, Connecticut, and Chicago, where the video installation is being exhibited at the Woman Made Gallery, funded by New Works Grant from Baang & Burne Contemporary. It's going to show in Miami, New York, and Connecticut, attached with a panel discussion on domestic violence.
"In 2014, we still have issues with this epidemic, and I will call it an epidemic because it's ongoing and I don't see it slowing down at all," she said. "The whole project stems from my whole experience witnessing abuse, so it's of personal importance as well. It was interesting listening to these women speak about what was the final straw, or how they got out of the situation, how they want to help other women get out...That is important stuff to know."
Del Buono references Janay Palmer's recent statement supporting her husband, NFL star Ray Rice, who was caught on camera dragging her from an elevator earlier this year. Palmer's defense of Rice spawned a huge Internet response, with women taking to Twitter to share their #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft anecdotes.
"Everyone's question is, 'How in the world can you stay with a man like that?' and 'How can you support him?'" Del Buono said. "It hurts to see that, it really hurts to hear her say that, because you know she needs help as well....That's what's great about all these organizations; they not only take women in and get them away from their abusive husbands, they teach them that they have to have a different way of thinking about themselves and their situation."
Del Buono is in talks about bringing "Voices" to certain Miami exhibitors in 2015.
"What's interesting is the women in Miami, they kept asking, 'when is this coming to Miami, we want to see it,'" Del Buono said. "If something like that were to happen to me, I'd have a hard time talking about it, I'd have a hard time going to look at a piece that basically bombards you with these voices sharing the same story. These women amaze me, I tell you. They all got out of these situations and they're all working on themselves.
"When I set it all up and you see all the voices going, it's a little overwhelming," she said. "When you hear each individual story, you get a sense of how much this is happening, how many women this is affecting. It basically did what I wanted it to do."
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Del Buono says the response from women involved has been approving, and she plans to keep interviewing and growing "Voices," trying to make a difference through these tales. Miami can expect ReFemme at Art Basel Miami Beach, where the collective will construct "Beauty Box," which won a Miami Awesome Foundation grant. An effort to counteract society's negative and unrealistic projections on women, "Beauty Box" is an interactive performance during which women will enter a constructed space and be told they are beautiful and worthwhile.
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