Photos by Nona Faustine. Nona Faustine poses in the middle of Wall Street standing on a makeshift wooden box. Wearing only a pair of white-heeled pumps, she looks expressionlessly into her camera. The photographic series is at once strikingly conceptual and deeply disturbing.
Many cultures have rites of passage to symbolize a woman's coming of age, such as confirmation in some branches of Christianity, bat mitzvah in Judaism, or even just the custom of a special celebration for a certain birthday generally between 12 and The word woman can be used generally, to mean any female human, or specifically, to mean an adult female human as contrasted with girl. The word girl originally meant "young person of either sex" in English; it was only around the beginning of the 16th century that it came to mean specifically a female child. Nowadays girl sometimes is used colloquially to refer to a young or unmarried woman.
New York has a reputation for being a melting pot, but it also has a strong history of slave trading. For her photo series, White Shoes, artist Nona Faustine wanted to call attention to that history and its enduring legacy. I see myself, the people who built this city and country as one.
Instead, the born-and-bred New Yorker sheds her clothes and poses at former slave trade sites as a way of honoring her ancestors. Faustine, who attended the International Center for Photography at Bard College and received her MFA in , had a great-grandmother who was enslaved, and she grew up hearing bits of that history through her mother before making her own realizations about the history of slavery in New York City. The photos highlight the vulnerability and powerlessness of slavery, and in some of the pictures, Faustine even wears shackles that would have been forced on slaves hundreds of years ago. In the photo below, taken in , Faustine is standing on a wooden box meant to double as an auction block right in the middle of Wall Street at the site of a former slave market.