Born to be Viewed

Born to be Viewed investigates the extensive history of the Black female body forcefully 

being put on display. From the depictions in ancient art works to the history of the slave trade 

and auctions, Sara Baartman (Hottentot Venus) and even within the history of the gynecology, 

Black women have forcefully had every inch of their body displayed for the world to see. 

Throughout the research and production of this series, I thoroughly researched the history of J. 

Marion Sims, the “father” of gynecology. For three years, Sims used unmedicated surgery as a 

means of torture towards black women as a means to discover the surgical treatment for 

vesicovaginal fistula. According to Sims, he believed that Black Women did not feel pain like 

white women did, so that justified him not using any form of anesthesia or numbing agent on the 

six women he operated on. He documented the names of only three of his victims: Anarcha, 

Betsey and Lucy. I also explore my prior knowledge of the slave trade and auctions and Sara 

Baartman (Hottentot Venus). 

Exploring the progressive change of the 

body from fully clothed to fully nude, I stiffly rotate my body as if I am 

being unwillingly examined by someone as a way to show that change. 

Approximately 28.7 

million women and children are enslaved today. 

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