New York has a reputation for being a melting pot, but it also has a strong history of slave trading. For her photo series, White Shoes, artist Nona Faustine wanted to call attention to that history and its enduring legacy. I see myself, the people who built this city and country as one.
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Nona Faustine poses in the middle of Wall Street standing on a makeshift wooden box. Wearing only a pair of white-heeled pumps, she looks expressionlessly into her camera. The photographic series is at once strikingly conceptual and deeply disturbing. But the Brooklyn-based photographer isn't there to pay or play with the city's iconic locations; rather, she's there to unearth hidden histories. As Faustine stands in the middle of Wall Street or between the broad columns of City Hall or beneath the portico of the State Supreme Court, she excavates a largely hidden history: the history of slavery on which New York is built.
Search Submit. Nona Faustine was really moved the first time she saw an image of an enslaved woman called Delia , alone and semi-nude. She looked like she could be one of my family members. The series, which evoked the history of slavery on which New York is built, saw Faustine photographing herself nude at various locations in New York City where African slaves arrived, lived, and died. One thing also stood out. Faustine wore white heels in all of her poses, per the title of her series.
Since ancient times that we can find representations of slavery in European art. In Europe the association of slavery and blackness increased from 17 th century onwards. Nonetheless, before this period, the slaves were predominantly white. In this article I will focus on the examples found in European art , since the vast majority of the examples I have found are from European artists, but I intend to address this theme again later and offer other perspectives.