Monday, December 2, 2019

Girl Museum's Girl for Sale Exhibit: Teen Sex Slaves Depicted in (Highbrow) Art


Here's part of the description of the Girl Museum's Girl for Sale online exhibit:

Every year, thousands of girls are tricked, intimidated or forced into the shadows of sweatshops and brothels for labor and sexual exploitation. Some are taken across oceans, others just across the street. This modern day slavery is the second most lucrative international illegal trade [...]

Would you sell your daughter for food? [...]

Girl for Sale is a collaborative virtual outreach exhibition about girl trafficking that interrogates and responds to the issues through poetry, art and education. [...] This [is a] co-production of Girl Museum and the American Poetry Museum, launched on 31 March 2011 [...]

Here's an excerpt from the images section:

The answer to the question of ‘What do we want from art?’ is continually evolving. [...] It is very hard to misinterpret a painting of naked girls on an auction block, unless you want to believe it is something other than the obvious. Historically, we seem to demand less from art. We want beauty and familiarity, and will readily forgive scenes of violence, sexual exploitation and perversion as ‘of its own time’. However, ethics and morality did not suddenly spring forth in the 21st century as newly invented, so to not interrogate imagery that celebrates the sale of people as commodities is a bit naive [...] 

And here are some of the images:

The White Slave, Abastenia St Ledger Eberle, 1913


This is the description of The White Slave by Abastenia St Ledger Eberle, a female sculptor, on Girl Museum:

"This statue caused controversy when it was first shown. The child in the statue represents child prostitution. [Abastenia St Leger] Eberle produced many pieces as a form of social protest after ‘The White Slave’. Child Prostitution, at the time of this statue, was known as White Slavery. The positioning of the child, as her hands are held behind her back graphically illustrates her entrapment and prevents any freedom. The man who holds her is shouting out, shouting out perhaps her price or her age."


The Greek Slave, Hiram Powers, 1844

This is the description of Hiram Powers' The Greek Slave on Girl Museum:

This 1844 statue shows a standing nude girl with chains around her hands and holding a cross. The cross seems to indicate her Christianity having been made captive and being sold off for sexual means. She gazes away from the viewer as though humiliated though this could also be read, because of the presence of the cross, as Christian shame.

The Girl or the Vase, Henryk Siemiradzki, 1881

Here's the intriguing Wikipedia entry for Henryk Siemiradzki's The Girl or the Vase:

The Girl or the Vase (Polish: Wazon czy kobieta), also known as The Presentation of the Slave, is an 1878 painting by the Polish artist Henryk Siemiradzki. The subject is from ancient Rome and shows a patrician who contemplates on whether he should buy an East Asian vase or a slave girl. The painting earned Siemiradzki the gold medal at the 1878 World's Fair in Paris and the French Legion of Honour.

The painting last changed owner in 2005, when it was sold through Sotheby's in New York for 1,426,000 dollars.

Slave Market in Rome, Jean-Leon Gerome, 1884 

Andn here's the description of Jean-Leon Gerome Slave Market in Rome posted on Girl Museum:

The theme of nakedness runs through all these images. In this painting, the girl being auctioned is stood on a stage in front of all those who are bidding for her. Not only is she without clothes but the other [very young nymphet] slaves behind and to her side are naked and stare out despondently at the crowd. The girl at the centre has her arm up and looks away, unable to look at whoever will buy her.




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