The Repeating Body: Slavery's Visual Resonance in the Contemporary
Fragmented Figurations of the Maternal
Chapter 2 interrogates the fraught terrain of black women’s reproductive bodies and the slave system that sought to exploit sexuality in the service of labor production. In this chapter the author argues that processes of black maternal longing limit the ability of black women to self-possess and this is a disjuncture artists highlight through fragmentation, sectioning off parts of black women’s bodies (and often their own) imagistically to mark the collective “parsing” out of black maternal capacities. This chapter utilizes imagery associated with black women’s conflicted maternity. It uses Betye Saar’s mixed media assemblage “Lullaby,” Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons’s photograph “When I am not Here/Estoy Allá,” Gayl Jones’s Corregidora, Lorna Simpson’s photograph “Self-Possession,” and Jamaica Kincaid’s novel The Autobiography of My Mother.