Venus Noire

Presented by Wagner Student Association for Africa

The film Venus Noire, is a real-life story about the life of Saartjie Baartman, a black, Khoi domestic worker, who in 1810 was enticed by fame and fortune to leave her home in South Africa for Europe. Upon her arrival in London she faced dehumanization and extreme ridicule as she was displayed as a "freak of nature" by virtue of her unusual anatomy and sexual organs. She was shipped to France where she was studied, made to mimic savagery and expose her body in Carnivals and eventually in brothels, where she was sexually exploited.

Baartman died at the tender age of 27 of pneumonia and venereal disease, all alone and never having returned to her homeland. After her death, her sexual organs and brains were displayed in a French Museum and studied to establish a link between man and apes. After several years of the South African government requesting that the remains of Baartman be returned for a humane burial, she was eventually returned in 2002 and buried in her homeland.

We will explore the issues raised in Venus Noire, particularly the role of women in general, the perception of African women and how issues of sexuality, dignity and power play into society today.