Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Portraits of Powerful Women on the Streets of Senegal

Portraits of Powerful Women on the Streets of Senegal: "French street artist YZ has begun a striking new series of portraits in Senegal. The project title, Amazone, refers to the Dahomey Amazons, a group of Fon female warriors who fought for the Kingdom of Dahomey (present-day Republic of Benin) from the 17th through the 19th centuries. The name “Amazon” was European-given, an allusion to Greek mythology. The Dahomey Amazons fought against the French in the First Franco-Dahomean War, which ended in Dahomey becoming a French colonial territory. YZ’s Amazone series portrays not only known historical figures, including some of the Amazones and Senegalese anti-colonialist Aline Sitoe Diatta, but also anonymous women — an homage to lost histories of female power.

 Amazone is refreshing for its offering of powerful images of nonsexualized women in public space. Pictures of women in public these days usually come from advertising, which throughout the world tends to present them as stereotypical, sexy shells of persons, not as individuals. The positive message of YZ’s series is compounded by the historical nature of the portraits, complicating a notion of the past as simply the story of powerful men."

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