Meeting Nona Faustine

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 7.42.29 PMThe first time I saw her work, I felt all of the air leave my lungs.

I had told a mutual friend that I was curating a new project called RACE AND REVOLUTION, with a view to stoke dialogue about racism from 250 years ago and racism of today.

He grabbed my phone so he could show me  NONA FAUSTINE‘s website.
The first piece I saw was her photo titled (above)  “From Her Body Sprang Their Greatest Wealth.”  I felt the ground give way beneath me. A nude body was laid bare in the midst of swirling New York City traffic. She had shackles on her wrists. All I wanted to do was slump down into a chair. Here was a woman in pain, shackled to the past, asking the world to, please, see her. Instead the world continues to spin.

The shackles referenced America’s history of slave ownership. She was standing, however, in modern day mid day New York City traffic, completely nude, which teed up the fact that freedom had not changed things. This connection to the past while confronting the present was precisely what I wanted to for my show. Nona’s work helped me articulate what I hadn’t be able yet been able to.

“Like a Pregnant Corpse The Ship Expelled Her into the Patriarchy” (pictured above). Nona’s body is draped over and blends into the rocks, making her seem more sculptural than human. It begs the viewer to remember the human bodies thrown off of ships during the Transatlantic Slave Trade,  the enslaved men  unloaded like human cargo at the Brooklyn slips, and the bodies lost at sea.

We may never know the stories of millions of individuals who experienced slavery or trauma, but it was precisely the imagery I wanted to for my show. By CONTRIBUTING we CAN and WILL create a new kind of conversation.


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