A Play Gives Voice to the “Hottentot Venus”

Running at the Tank through February 12, Hottentotted pays tribute to Saartjie Baartman and the exploitation she endured.

Hottentotted (photo © Margot Jordan)

The story of Saartjie Baartman — sometimes referred to as Sarah Bartman — is a dark lesson in the evils of colonialism and racism. Born in the 1770s or ’80s in South Africa, Baartman went to England in 1810 with her employer, Hendrik Cesars, and a doctor named William Dunlop. There, the men put her on display as the “Hottentot Venus,” exhibiting her as freak because of her large buttocks. Despite abolitionists’ attempt to free her, she remained enslaved and exhibited for the duration of her life, taken in 1814 to France, where she was sold to an animal trainer and subject to examination by racist scientists. She died the following year, at which time her body was dissected and her remains put on display at the Museum of Man — where they remained for over a century and a half. It was only in 1974 that they were taken off view, and only in 2002 that they were repatriated to and properly buried in South Africa. Written by Charly Evon Simpson and directed by Colette Robert, the play Hottentotted pays tribute to Baartman and the exploitation she endured by weaving together imagined moments from her life with the real stories of black American women.

When: Nightly through Sunday, February 12, 7pm ($18)
Where: The Tank @ 46th Street (151 W 46th Street, 8th Floor, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan)

More info here

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