Ayana V Jackson, Sarah Baartman and the gaze on black bodies
By Stefanie Jason
For her exhibition “Archival Impulse & Poverty Pornography”, Ayana V Jackson turns to the archives to touch on the representation of black bodies.
The flyers pasted around the cobbled streets of London beckoned passers-by to witness the “greatest phenomenon ever exhibited in this country”. Intrigued by the invitation and the word on the streets, curious Londoners flocked to the show to see what had just arrived in town. With bated breath and the two-shilling entry fee in hand, they arrived at Number 225 Piccadilly, to cast their eyes on the “Hottentot Venus”.
It was on such a day in 1810 that Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman – dressed in skin-tight clothes to best exhibit her posterior and genitalia – was put on display like a captured animal. And it is this memory of the black body as a source of spectacle and “othering” from the days of colonial expansion that gave birth to artist Ayana V Jackson’s latest body of work, Archival Impulse & Poverty Pornography. [Continue reading article and get more information about the exhibit at The Mail & Guardian.]