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Lorna Simpson (American, born 1960)
Same, 1991, 19 color Polaroids in four frames with 11 plastic plaques
Gift of the New Art Collectors 1991.22.2 a-e

Lorna Simpson has said that black women in the United States are treated as if they are faceless and devoid of identity or individuality. One of the foremost figures in conceptual photography, Simpson is recognized for photographic and text based works that question the idea of the photograph as documentary evidence, challenging views of gender, identity, and breaking down stereotypes of African American women in particular. In Same she shows only the backs of two models' heads joined by a braid of hair. The faceless subjects have become a stand-in for all African American women. Plaques beneath the photographs tell us “they pronounce water the same way” and “read the news account and knew it could have easily been them”, which describe commonalities between these women and presumably African American women in general. This sameness can be read as both a display of strength and unity, or alternately as a negation of the women’s individuality. The presumption inherent in racism and prejudice that ‘they are all the same’ makes it easier to dismiss these women and renders them invisible, an idea that is reflected in the concealed faces.




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