June 17, 2019

Samantha Scavo Examines Personal Space, and How It's Threatened, in "Don't Touch Me"

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by Joey Phoenix

CW: Personal Space Violations, Sexual Abuse

Samantha Scavo shoots “Don’t Touch Me” at Olio in Peabody

For the last couple of months, Samantha of Samantha Scavo Photography has been working on a poignant series of photographs entitled “Don’t Touch Me,” a portrait series that ties directly into the #MeToo movement, drawing attention to issues of personal autonomy, space, and violations against those rights.

“I was assaulted at a party when I was 18.
He was a stranger and had taken advantage of me that night.
I pressed charges, but everything was dropped and he got away with it.
Now, I want to get involved in various projects pertaining to women’s rights and sexual/domestic violence.” — Sophia

“‘’Don’t Touch Me” was inspired by my desire to empower others.” Samantha describes. “I always seek to highlight truth in my work. In this case, I wanted to focus on personal space.

“Personal space is so easily violated in an attempt to make others feel small or inferior, so this series was my way to allow others to take back their space.”

She put out a call for participants in late May, and the short portrait sessions took place at Olio in Peabody, a multi-purpose event venue right on Main Street Downtown.

“When I was in high school, the guys would play this “game” where they shoved their crotches in someone’s face. 
They would only do it to other guys, but it still wasn’t okay.
It happened to me a lot until I got so fed up that I punched one of the guys in the face. 
They stopped doing it to me after that.” — Andrew

Prior to the sessions, one of which was in late May and the other in June of 2019, Samantha had her participants share a story of one time when their space was violated. She then used these stories as projections onto a wall The participants would then stand in front of these stories and hold a sign in their own handwriting which reads “Don’t Touch Me.”

“Since I am just beginning my career as a photographer, I wanted my first photo series to be experiential and profound. I wanted it to be important and empowering,” Samantha said. “It needed to represent the kind of work I hope to do throughout my professional life.”

You can view the full gallery of images on her website. You can also follow Samantha’s work on Facebook and Instagram.  

“When I was a freshmen in college, I thought I had met the man of my dreams. Then, a series events involving jealousy, control, and cruel words happened — Those were the red flags that I was blinded to.
I went to his house to play a video game. His friends were all playing and I wanted to join, but He wouldn’t let me. So I left. 
I thought I was walking alone, but I could feel him following me. 
Then I could feel him behind me, so I turned around. He punched me in the stomach and yelled at me. 

I started crying and told him to leave me alone. I felt his breath on my neck right before he choked me from behind. I dropped to my knees as I blacked out. 
I woke up to blue lights. I was in shock. 
I told the cops not to arrest him because I couldn’t fathom a person being that evil. 
That’s when I decided I would never let anyone ever treat me like that. 
It took me years to muster up the courage to deal with it and heal. 

Boxing has truly been my saving grace and reminds me that I am stronger than I thought.” — Dani

“If you are Assigned Female At Birth, you probably have so many stories,
If you’re AFAB and from the South or the Midwest, then “consent” probably didn’t even enter your vocabulary until far later than it should have. 

We were told to hug our uncles and say hello to strangers, but also to sit with our knees held tight together lest someone look up your skirt. 
Love your neighbor but also fear them because your cousin is now pregnant and she’s only 16. 

We were also told that it was probably her fault. 

I was only 12 When I was a sophomore in high school. there was a group of 15 and 16 year old boys in my Biology class who thought it would be funny to talk to me about things I had never heard before. 
My parents had talked to me about sex, but not in much detail — and the mechanics of the thing went over my head. 

One day, after class, one of them followed me outside into the corridor, he pushed me up against the lockers and said “I know you want to fuck me,” then laughed in my face and walked away. 

At the time I didn’t quite know what that word meant, but after that, I had a bit of an impression.” — Joey

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Joey Phoenix is a performance artist and the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore. Follow them on Twitter @jphoenixmedia. If you have an idea for a story, feature, or pictures of adorable llamas, feel free to send them a message at joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com