The Brooklyn Museum is set to present a groundbreaking exhibition titled “Nona Faustine: White Shoes”, running from March 8 to July 7, 2024. This exhibition not only marks Nora Faustine’s first solo museum showcase but also represents the first comprehensive installation of her poignant photographic project. Born in Brooklyn in 1977, Nona Faustine’s “White Shoes” is a compelling series of forty self-portraits taken in locations across New York City’s five boroughs and Long Island. These portraits are more than mere images; they are a stark confrontation with New York City’s hidden history of enslavement. Faustine’s work brings to the forefront the city’s once prominent, yet now largely forgotten, involvement in the slave trade.
In “White Shoes”, Faustine embodies the role of a time-traveling conduit, bringing to light the obscured memories embedded in New York City’s landscapes. From Harlem to Wall Street and Prospect Park, these familiar urban vistas are recontextualized as once being sites of historical trauma and resilience. Faustine’s intention is clear: to capture the historical amnesia of a city and, by extension, a country that has yet to fully reckon with its past. A distinctive feature of Faustine’s self portraits is her choice of footwear- sensible white pumps, unofficially known as “Church Lady” shoes. This choice is laden with symbolism, referencing colonialism, assimilation, and Black propriety. The artist’s presence in these images is powerful yet vulnerable as she poses, often nude or with props, in locations rich with historical significance. These sites include the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, the former site of Seneca Village in Central Park, and former slave-owning estates.
“Nona Faustine: White Shoes” is more than just an art exhibition; it is a historical journey, a social commentary and a personal narrative interwoven into the fabric of New York City. It invites viewers to reflect on the unseen histories beneath their feet, fostering a deeper understanding of the city’s past and ongoing influence. The exhibition stands as a testament to the power of art in unveiling historical truths and sparking meaningful conversations about the past and present. “Nona Faustine: White Shoes” is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center For Feminist Art, with Carla Forbes; Curatorial Assistant, Brooklyn Museum.