Logan Magee

venus (hottentot)

Class of: 2022

Major: Integrated Design BFA

Medium: Video

Faculty: Matt Whitman

Prompt: Choose a physical location or a series of locations (they could be private, public, imagined, real...) and using video & moving images, create a piece that forms or documents a journey through or between your chosen space(s).

Myths are not only fictional stories; as I learned in my first year seminar class, myths can be anything that explains a social or cultural phenomenon. For my fourth Time project, I wanted to explore a myth: Sarah Baartman. Sarah Baartman was one of two women enslaved in an exploitative circus type production, in which their bodies were shown to white crowds in Europe. Her figure, curvy and large-framed, was fetishized. She was passed between showmen and animal trainers and did not receive any of the profit made as she was, effectively, property of her owner. She died at 26 years old. The mythology associated with Sarah is this kind of exotification: Sarah’s body, as well as all black feminine bodies, are to be seen as abnormal, and owned by everyone except themselves. They are to be fetishized, but the host’s own sexuality is suppressed and restrained.

With Baartman swimming in the back of my mind, I thought about another myth: Venus. Since second grade, I have studied art history and find that in all the classes I have taken, I am perpetually drawn to the renditions of the birth of Venus. However, in being a black woman myself, I realize that my attraction to these works is complicated. They depict what beauty standards hold to be supreme beauty: white flesh, soft curves, blonde hair, and a thinner frame. I am the opposite. My skin is brown, my body is carved and shaped in the mold of my mother (and her mother), and my hair is dark, coarse, and tightly curled. When I
was younger, I struggled to grapple with this; I wanted to be more to “the standard.” My video project is an illustration of my journey through art education, white schools, and white beauty standards.