Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A Negroid Type

Carrie Mae Weems's haunting late twentieth- 
century images of naked and scarred black women and men have
their origins in a series of ‘slave daguerreotypes’ produced over one hundred and fifty years ago. In 1850, European scientist, Louis Agassiz,commissioned white American daguerreotypist, Joseph T. Zealy, to create fifteen views of seven slaves belonging to different tribal groups in Africa. These images are all that are now left of the lives of Alfred from the Foulah tribe, Jem from the Gullah, Fassena from the Mandingo and two sets of fathers and daughters, Jack and Drana from the Guinea and Renty and Delia from the Congo, all of whom were kidnapped or born into slavery in the American south. Mired in a nineteenth-century visual language of scientific racism, the black, white and grey textures of these original silver plates illuminate the lines, scars, bones and veins. of these women and men. Just as they provide intimate views of their physiognomies, musculature and genitalia, these images tell us nothing concerning the untold lives of these enslaved Africans.

extract from Introduction of African American Visual Arts, by Celeste-Marie Bernier
(a book worth reading for art crit types)
"My responsibility as an artist is to work, to sing for my supper, to make art, beautiful and powerful, that adds and reveals; to beautify the mess of a messy world, to heal the sick and feed the helpless; to shout bravely from the rooftops and storm barricaded doors and voice the specificity of our historical moment."
- Carrie Mae Weems


Big Man said...

I didn't know you had a blog KW. I'll tell my wife about it, she's an artist and would be interested in this type of stuff and the discussions.

I'm a little too ignorant.

KonWomyn said...


Thanks for dropping a comment! iBlog about all sorts of things Africa-related. I post whatever interests me - not limited art, poetry and music.

Nah art is what you feel - nothing to do with ignorance. I'm not an artist but iAppreciate it...so can you.

Thanks tell your Mrs to drop a word. That'd be cool.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

I just found your blog last week, too, KonWomyn. It's neat.

About this post. Did you know that Africans are the least likely to have the Neanderthal gene? The media discovered that this month, and got real quiet about it. Had the reverse been true, we'd have never heard the end of it.

KonWomyn said...

Hey Kit

Thanks for checking me out! Thanks for the compliment. Checed out your blog a couple of times, never dropped a word tho ; (

From what I understand, neanderthals originated in Africa that settled in Europe - Europeans have a percentage of the neanderthal gene in them and Africans don't.

You're rite there's a quickness to emphasise that Europeans dominantly posess homo sapien DNA, but had it been Africans with the gene, the myth of Africans as sub-human would have been revived with great force.

Anonymous said...

Nice collection of pictures, reminds me of Sartjie Baartman.


CNu said...


give'm a minute.

having that neanderthal gene will soon be determined to be the thing to be, the defining, differentiating, sine qua non of non-africoid cognitive supremacy.

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