Black Venus – Reclaiming Black Women In Visual Culture

Thursday 20th July - Sunday 24th September

An exhibition examining the historical representation and shifting legacy of Black women in visual culture.


Curated by Aindrea Emelife, BLACK VENUS brings together the work of over 20 Black women and non-binary artists to explore the othering, fetishisation and reclamation of narratives around Black femininity.

BLACK VENUS celebrates and explores the many faces of Black femininity, with over 40 contemporary and primarily photographic artworks. The exhibition’s contemporary works offer a radical affront to a centuries-long dynamic of objectification, showcasing all that Black womanhood can be and has always been.

The exhibition mines the complex narratives of Black womanhood through the lens of three archival depictions of Black women: the Hottentot Venus, the Sable Venus, and the Jezebel, dating between 1793 to 1930. These works serve to contextualise historical depictions of Black women and the caricaturing of the Black body. With these three thematic pillars, BLACK VENUS examines the shifting image of the Black woman in visual culture and the complex lived experience that informs the work of cross-generational women and non-binary artists today.

Having debuted in 2022 at New York’s Fotografiska, BLACK VENUS’s presentation at Somerset House features a new reworking of the themes with over 19 new works and 6 UK-based artists in the line-up.

Participating artists include: Sonia BoyceWidline CadetShawanda CorbettRenee CoxDelphine DialloEllen GallagherAyana V JacksonZanele MuholiAmber PinkertonTabita RezaireCoreen SimpsonLorna SimpsonMing SmithMaud SulterKara WalkerMaxine WalkerCarrie Mae WeemsAlberta Whittle and Carla Williams.

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