From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Accompanying the eponymous exhibit at Dartmouth College's Hood Museum, this collection of essays is as richly insightful as it is beautifully produced. Eight contributors analyze representations of black women from separate but intersecting perspectives: the traditional African, the colonial, and the contemporary global. Accessible essays and artist commentaries are interleaved among 128 color plates. Thompson's essay opens with the black female body on display in Europe and moves to the recovery of traditional African ideologies of womanhood, setting the stage for Ifi Amadiume's examination of traditional African art practices and Enid Schildkrout's demonstration of cross-cultural exchange. Investigating western colonizations and imaginings of black women, Kimberly Wallace-Sanders's analysis of representations of Mammy shifts the ground to the United States, and Deborah Willis considers how photographs from black family albums between the 1890s and 1940s countered racist images in popular culture. Thompson's closing meditation leads the reader back to the new, thought-provoking and often confrontational images of an empowered and outspoken black female presence at the heart of this exhibit. The originality of the images and interpretations make this catalogue essential to understanding how fully clothed the unclothed body truly is. (Apr.)
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"Rather than recycling the colonial approach to power and subjectivity, which defines the self through the ridicule of the other, Black Womanhood
provides various textual, visual, and personal tactics that can contribute to re-imagining a more humane way forward."—Woman's Art Journal
"Twenty years ago, Barbara Kruger coined her now-infamous slogan, 'your body is a battleground,' in a campaign to increase awareness of how women's bodies are marketed as commodities. Visually stunning and intellectually provocative, Black Womanhood resurrects that dialogue and complicates an embattled body in which blackness is a catalyst, surface, symbol, subject, and object that, while transformative on many levels, continues to appear alarmingly vulnerable to exploitation and stereotyping."—caa.reviews
"A serious academic endeavor, suitable for scholars and the general public alike."—Book News
"This collection of essays is as richly insightful as it is beautifully produced. . . . The originality of the images and interpretations make this catalogue essential to understanding how fully clothed the unclothed body truly is."—Publisher's Weekly