BLACK VENUS

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Ming Smith, Grace on Motor cycle 1978…Houldsworth Gallery,London

An exhibition exploring the shifting legacy of Black women in visual culture

Curated by Aindrea Emelife, BLACK VENUS brings together the work of over 20 Black women and non-binary artists to explore the othering, fetishisation and reclamation of narratives around Black femininity. The exhibition pairs over 40 contemporary and primarily photographic artworks with a selection of archival imagery, dated between 1793 to 1930, illustrating historical depictions of Black women and the caricaturing of the Black body. The show’s contemporary works offer a riotous affront to a centuries-long dynamic of objectification, showcasing all that Black womanhood can be and has always been.

The exhibition mines the complex narratives of Black womanhood through the influences of three perceived archetypes: the Hottentot Venus, the Sable Venus, and the Jezebel.  Using these three thematic pillars, BLACK VENUS examines the shifting image of the Black woman in visual culture and the complex lived experience that informs the work of cross-generational women and non-binary artists today.

Participating artists include: Sonia Boyce, Widline Cadet, Shawanda Corbett, Renee Cox, Delphine Diallo, Ellen Gallagher, Ayana V Jackson, Zanele Muholi, Amber Pinkerton, Tabita Rezaire, Coreen Simpson, Lorna Simpson, Ming Smith, Maud Sulter, Kara Walker, Maxine Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Alberta Whittle and Carla Williams.

BLACK VENUS - Thursday 20 July – Sunday 24 September 2023

Further Information:  BLACK VENUS | Somerset House