Epidermis glistened like a newly-blacked boot (2018)

Palm oil is one of the items that was brought to the Americas and Europe. In the present, it is used to make food and cosmetics products. It was combined with gunpowder and lemons, then poured over slaves to be scrubbed and polish, almost like a shoe. This served to cover any wounds and marks that slaves sustained during their capture and transport through the middle passage.

“Once the captive African had endured the required quarantine period in the pest houses and were deemed free of infectious disease, a merchant or merchant company took responsibility for them and arranged for their sale. Before being placed on the auction block and sold to the highest bidder, Africans were stripped naked, washed, shaved, and rubbed with palm oil. Wounds or scars on their bodies were filled with tar. Before making purchases, potential buyers inspected the teeth and bodies of enslaved men and women in minute detail.”

In Epidermis Glistened like a Newly-blacked Boot I combine gunpowder, palm oil, and lemon juice and cover my body in this mixture. I commit the act, the enslaver committed to slaves, upon myself. The audience, as spectators or participants, becomes implicated in the violent act.



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