Joining the fight against human trafficking is fast becoming a trend in Hollywood, and more often than not, the finger is pointed at foreign soil. But “FLESH,” a new documentary by Kristin Ross Lauterbach, exposes trafficking in Hollywood’s own backyard. This month the film partners with Loyola Marymount University’s “The Purpose of Being” art exhibition to offer visitors a unique opportunity to do the same.
“The Purpose of Being” highlights the work of nine professional artists and activists paired with LMU student artists to create collaborative projects. Each artist uses their work to bring about social awareness. Causes range from gender issues to police brutality to the environment. ”Being” takes place during LMU’s Bellarmine Forum, a week-long series of events, performances and lectures under the theme “Imagining Equality: Women’s Art and Activism.” Being is also the action response to curator Ronald Lopez’s other exhibit, “Harmony Reverberates Optimism,” showing at the Jaus Gallery.
“Harmony” is an exhibition of Los Angeles female artists creating social change with their art forms. As one of them, Lauterbach is showing a 12 minute piece of her movie “FLESH.” The documentary explores how U.S. citizens knowingly and unknowingly propagate human trafficking home. It gives a voice to those in the business and those seeking to end it. The result is a startling perspective on what drives trafficking here in the United States.
“The Purpose of Being” pulled in teams of LMU students to create and exhibit their own responses to the art and encourages the audience to respond as well. The “FLESH” team created an installation piece to show alongside the video piece on display. Lauterbach’s cameras follow current and former prostituted women in Los Angeles as they tell their stories of physical and psychological enslavement, being trafficked throughout the United States, and their harrowing escapes. Pimps and former pimps are interviewed. So are expert abolitionists. And it’s all in an effort to move the discussion from how to what and why. What are the underlying causes of human trafficking in America and why aren’t we stopping it?
The Jaus Gallery exhibit closes on October 29th. LMU’s “The Purpose of Being” runs from October 25th to the 30th, with a reception on the 29th from 5 pm- 7 pm. Several trafficking survivors will be at the reception to tell their stories in person and Lauterbach and team will be on hand to talk practical application.
If you are can’t attend either of the exhibitions, have no fear. “FLESH” has hopes of coming to a theater near you in the not too distant future. You can help the film in it’s journey to theaters by “liking” it on Facebook here, sharing the teaser trailer below, and encouraging others to do the same. And while you’re at it, sign the petition to tell your representative that the arts are key in preventing human trafficking.