The maker’s intention

Sister & Beauty, 2018

Often we as artists make something with a specific set of influences in mind which flow through our consciousness. Be it a book, an essay we read, a film we watched, work from other artists we look at, a historical context. 

 These are the things that were going through my mind when I made the image ‘Sister & Beauty, 2018.’ The image was made in-between my time in grad school and my residency at Light Work. I took about a 12-15 month hiatus from the Black Alchemy work to form a new perspective and absorb reference material. In the studio, I am always thinking about the work of Dr. Deborah Willis, and during this time came across the book Black Venus 2010 : They Called Her Hottentot, which the cover of the book features a collaboration between two African American photo-based artists Renee Cox and Lyle Ashton Harris [Venus Hottentot 2000]. 

Venus Hottentot 2000 [in collaboration with Renee Cox], 1994

Venus Hottentot Context:“As a young South African woman of about twenty, Saartjie Baartman, the so-called “Hottentot Venus,” was brought to London and placed on exhibit in 1810. Clad in the Victorian equivalent of a body stocking, and paraded through the streets and on stage in a cage she became a human spectacle in London and Paris. Baartman’s distinctive physique became the object of ridicule, curiosity, scientific inquiry, and desire until and after her premature death. The figure of Sarah Baartman was reduced to her sexual parts” 

The Image mage laying facedown in camera case: A photograph of my aunt at 21yrs old addressed to my mother. In my opinion, a form of communication shared between two sisters which reflects on the implications of beauty but most importantly, in this gesture between the two, they control the narrative of grace and dissemination. Therefore resulting in my choice to leave the image face down in the act of preserving this gesture. Most likely, Baartman would have never had this control over the dissemination of her body. 

I do not know whether to say this image is highly conceptual or highly informational, but the intent was to reinforce my influences for those who know the story and to educate those who do not, while at the same time finding my foothold in this narrative, i.e. my mother and aunt.

Using Format