Soraya Hebron: For the Love of Saartjie

photocrati gallery


Photography and Text by Soraya Hebron, Copyright 2016


At the age of 20, Saartjie Baartman of South Africa was sold to a Scottish doctor and taken on tour as the main act in a “freak show.” She did not have any tricks up her sleeve to entertain. She never sang a tune or danced to a beat to amuse the crowd. In 1810, the bold, yet unfamiliar curves of the black female body constituted enough of a spectacle for her European onlookers. Baartman, also known as “Hottentot Venus,” marked the beginning of the socially acceptable practice of policing and parading black women’s bodies.


Since Saartjie’s passing in 1815, the black female body has remained a site of exploitation and critique. Modern culture and media constantly call attention to the size, shape, and shade of black women’s bodies, aligning them with personal agendas and measuring them against oppressive standards.


For the Love of Saartjie explores the place where the black female body meets the power of light and the darkness of shadows, the joy of freedom and the the anxiety of critique.


This project is not an affirmation of beauty, because we need none. This project is a celebration, because we are free.




I was born in the Congo

I walked to the Fertile Crescent and built

The Sphinx

I designed a pyramid so tough that a star

That only glows every one hundred years falls

Into the center giving divine perfect light

I am bad


 Nikki Giovanni          


About The Author: Soraya Hebron is a senior majoring in Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016. To read more articles by this Soraya Hebron, go here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *