This is an Antigua-Barbuda lit-arts centric site but we routinely share things beyond the borders of the literary arts, Antigua and Barbuda, and even the Caribbean. We’re not able to share everything and reserve the right to share what we choose – within whatever window time allows. This email comes from Barbados but we’re sharing it primarily because it penetrates the borders of the socio-historical as relates to African people and centers a woman more of us need to know about, Saartjie Baartman. Hey, maybe you already do, but for those who don’t. And also to say congrats to Bajan scribe and artist Cher-Antoinette as she prepares to launch her inaugural solo-exhibition. Bajan-peeps, check it out; Cher, best of luck and send us some pictures for the blog.
Cher-Antoinette is a scientist, writer and visual artist. Her inaugural solo-exhibition is being planned in association with the Errol Barrow Centre of Creative Imagination (EBCCI) at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus for the month of March 2017.
The theme of the exhibition “Just Call Me Sarah: The Colours of a Woman” was conceived in part by the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the last days in the life of Saartjie Baartman (Sarah). This KhoiKhoi woman of South African descent was made to believe that she would have a better life in Europe in the 1800’s, with wealth and prosperity, if she agreed to showcase her attributes – her ability to sing and dance and more importantly, her physical characteristics which were never before seen by the white Europeans.
The story is short, Sarah was ‘stolen’ from her homeland and sold for display in London as a “Phenomenon”. She was ridiculed and objectified and died a lonely, painful death having been placed into a life of abuse and prostitution such that we may not be able to comprehend. Five years she lived and died in Europe, a life filled with ridicule, abuse and objectification – all because she looked different with large breasts, spreading hips, an ample buttocks (a genetic condition called Steatopygia) and an elongated labia.
Her objectification was imposed upon her. Her hyper-sexuality was bestowed on her and her bodily shape was used to signify (albeit incorrectly) the close relations between black people and animals (orangutans) and also to stand as proof of ideologies regarding black female primitivism.
“The history of her exploitation touched a raw nerve in me, maybe because I also am a full figured woman, with possibly a similar genetic situation. But more importantly I am very concerned in the manner in which this present generation is embracing such self-objectification and in my mind tainting the beauty of the full figured woman. Many have chosen to initiate or be comfortable with their socially imposed objectification and in some instances have ridiculed themselves and participated in setting a stage where their perceived value is diminished. The lines of sensuality and sexuality have been blurred significantly. The Colours seen in my portfolio speak to the wholesomeness of womanhood, the joy of being a woman and the fact that beauty and strength come from within with the guidance of that which the Universe in its Divine Order has presented to us.” (Cher)
There are 25 pieces to be displayed with the primary media being singularly and a combination of watercolour, pen/ink, and charcoal, acrylic inks on paper and acrylic on canvas.
If, like us, you’re not in Barbados, you can still check out the artists’ work (though not this collection just yet) online.