By now you’ve likely seen the cover of this week’s New York Magazine. Thirty-five of the 46 women who have publicly accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault appear on the cover, dressed in all black and seated side by side, along with one empty chair representing those who remain silent. It’s a striking, memorable image that puts into perspective the sheer number of women who say Cosby abused them and have gone largely unheard over the course of four decades.
The issue features an essay by Noreen Malone and portraits by Amanda Demme in addition to the testimonies—in text and video—of the 35 women. When it was released online Sunday night, the cover drew widespread attention and prompted others to share their support of the victims and their own stories of sexual assault using the hashtag#theEmptyChair on Twitter. “It became yet another platform for all these voices to come forward, which was incredible,” says Jody Quon,New York‘s photography director. “We could have never predicted it.”
It was Quon who had the idea six months ago to start approaching the women who had spoken out against Cosby and see if they’d be interested in participating in a photo essay for the magazine. Now, after dozens of phone calls, group photo shoots in New York, Las Vegas and LA, and at least 40 different cover iterations, the issue is out on stands and online. (After receiving record traffic on Monday morning, the site went down briefly, apparently because of a cyber attack.) The dialogue that it has sparked online and in the media extends far beyond the allegations against Cosby and addresses a larger culture of silence that surrounds rape.
Read the full interview here: