PRESS Faustine’s photos serve to mark the places that belong to a history too often hidden from view, whether by design, or neglect, or the ever-frenetic pace of change inherent to life in New York. In another, she holds a placard printed with Sojourner Truth’s famous refrain, “Ar’n’t I a Woman,” on a narrow stretch of Canal Street.
In one, she stands in the bright sunlight at what looks to be an unremarkable M. There’s no plaque to mark the spot where Truth used to live, at number seventy-four.
Organized as a dialogue between past and present with Faustine herself as the medium between the two, both in front of and behind the camera, this exhibit aims to make permanence feel fragile, impermanence palpable and to question everything in between.
For the monument photos, she puts a severe black line over images of political landmarks ranging from the Statue of Liberty to the Lincoln Memorial; the graphic interruption stands for the scores of mistreated Americans for whom such structures and their supposed representation of the common good have remained inaccessible.
Whether gesturing at injustice in this stark manner, or channeling it through her own body, Faustine makes long-term issues newly urgent. Nona Faustine’s solo exhibit “ investigates the history of slaves and immigrants in their contributions to a Country “built upon their backs” through beautiful, thought provoking photography.
I don’t think that the landscape of America would look the way it does without black women in it.” Fader.
While focusing on the complicated legacy of the Statue of Liberty, Faustine also took her camera to the capital, where she turned her lens on some of the nation’s most visible memorials, including the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the White House.
However, for Faustine it is the possessive form, a declaration of ownership that informs the phrase, as if it were whispered almost inaudibly to oneself as a mantra, a sarcastic observation, or even a question.
With the title she also asks us to consider what is buried beneath the words. Only the picture’s title, “Negro Burial Ground,” hints at the whole truth of the depot’s past.
A bar on the ferry’s window cut through her view, obstructing the scenery and overlaying the iconic American symbol with a dark stain.
The artist was convinced its imposition wasn’t wholly accidental. In early December, on a marrow-chilling Friday morning, I was on the phone with the thirty something photographer Nona Faustine when my mind began to deviate somewhere else entirely. What followed was a response so exceptional, a sentiment so achingly true and familiar, it never ceases to shock.
In the United States, the Statue of Liberty, the National Air and Space Museum, and the statues dedicated to great men and the wars they fought—George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr.—all stand for freedom.
In a new solo exhibition of performance and photography titled My Country, the artist Nona Faustine turns her own body into a monument to be examined in relationship to America’s celebrated and memorialized triumphs. When she peered through her camera’s lens, Faustine was taken aback by a thick, black streak bifurcating the frame.
Baxter St at CCNY is pleased to announce 2016 Workspace Resident Nona Faustine’s solo show My Country.