Somerset House's Upcoming Exhibition "BLACK VENUS" Celebrates Black Women in Visual Culture
A celebration of the diverse faces of Black femininity with over 40 contemporary artworks.
London’s Somerset House is set to host “BLACK VENUS,” curated by Aindrea Emelife, an exhibition that examines the historical representation and evolving legacy of Black women in visual culture. Through the works of 18 Black women and non-binary artists, it explores othering, fetishization and the reclamation of narratives surrounding Black femininity.
“BLACK VENUS” celebrates the diverse faces of Black femininity with over 40 contemporary artworks, primarily photography. It confronts objectification, showcasing the multifaceted nature of Black womanhood and affirming its essence.
The exhibition contextualizes three historical depictions of Black women–Hottentot Venus, Sable Venus and Jezebel–dating from 1793 to 1930. These serve as pillars to understand the caricaturing and objectification of the Black body. “BLACK VENUS” examines the shifting image of Black women in visual culture and its influence on contemporary artists.
Following its successful debut at New York’s Fotografiska in 2022, “BLACK VENUS” at Somerset House will showcase 19 new works and introduces six UK-based artists, which include Sonia Boyce, Widline Cadet, Shawanda Corbett, Renee Cox, Delphine Diallo, Ayana V Jackson, Zanele Muholi and others. Their contributions challenge existing narratives and offer diverse perspectives on Black womanhood.
“BLACK VENUS” will open its doors at Terrace Rooms and Courtyard Rooms in Somerset House on July 20 and will run until September 24.
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