Nona Faustine’s powerful imagery looks back to a time of slavery that exposes locations around NYC where humans were once bought and sold in the slave trade. Entitled “White Shoes”, Faustine photographed herself completely nude except for a pair of white shoes in areas where much of this illicit activity took place. On Manhattan island, this includes a busy street on Wall Street and the steps of City Hall. In the photographs, Faustine stood atop a box on the Financial Street, as if she were back in a slave market and then walked up the steps of City Hall built over an African burial ground. Her visuals speak volumes to the viewer as we can only envision someone like her in that detestable situation.
Some of the more powerful shots of “White Shoes” find the artist passed out in the water near rocks on a beach and atop three gravestones in Brooklyn. Her courage to use herself rather than a model is exemplary in that it shows her genuine interest in having a direct connection with the narrative. Along with the photographs, she uses quotes which mimic passages from the Declaration of Independence and other human rights documents. Slave trading was legal in New York for almost 200 years. It began in 1626 with the Dutch West India Company and ended in 1827 with the help of slave advocacy group the New York Manumission Society.
Nona Faustine is a 2013 MFA graduate of Bard college. Her work delves into gender politics, folklore and how the past affects the present and future. (via blackgirllonghair)