Nona Faustine’s photographs re-insert the African-American body — usually her own — into sites where it has been written out of history. Faustine’s physical presence challenges racist narratives that gloss over episodes of oppression of and resistance by people of color. She usually appears nude or semi-clothed in her work. But rather than titillate, her confrontational images testify to the objectification and trade of marginalized bodies. While it only takes her a few minutes to photograph each work, the resulting images become counter-monuments to chronicles of erasure. In From Her Body Came Their Greatest Wealth, 2013, Faustine stands naked, save for a pair of white heels, on a wooden block at a Wall Street intersection that was a former slave market. With hands clasped in front of her body, she is a haunting apparition alluding to the exploitative sources of global capital. In Ar’n’t I A Woman, Sojourner Truth 74 Canal St, NYC, 2016, Faustine hoists a sign with the famous abolitionist’s words outside her Lower East Side address. A new series depicts national monuments viewed through security enclosures. The visual interruptions of bars and fences in these postcard-perfect vistas remind us that national identity is bound up with policing and exclusion.
— Wendy Vogel