A Slave Market


By Emile Browne

Framed: 30 3/4 x 22 7/8″

Metallic Paper


“A Slave Market” is a thought-provoking photograph that offers a window into the complex history of Paraty, Brazil. The photograph captures the market square, looking east to Africa, in the historic town center, which was once the second largest slave port in Brazil. The square features several bars and inns, as well as a church to the west and east. The photograph depicts the bars and the inns where buyers would rest, drink, fuck, and trade in human life. The harbor is to the north, where enslaved people from the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade were offloaded and sold into bondage, and the largest church, where parishioners were told of the unwavering love of God, and the soullessness and evil religions of the shipped in Africans, to the west have been excluded. The photograph highlights the binary contrast between the beauty and wealth of the town and the brutal reality of the slave trade. The dirt of the market square and surrounding cobble stone roads appear to be covered in gold dust, reflecting the history of the town as a center of gold mining. However, this same soil also witnessed the horrors of the slave trade, as people were bought and sold as commodities. The cobblestoned streets, original to the towns creation, now are flanked by restaurants, bookstores, and tourist tchotchke. The photograph is a testament to the importance of acknowledging the difficult and often painful histories that shape our world today. It reminds us that beauty and wealth can be built on the exploitation and suffering of others. By confronting these histories, we can work towards a more just and equitable future. “A Slave Market” is a beguiling work of art that invites us to reflect on the complex histories that have shaped the world we live in today while looking at something so innocuous and tranquil. It is a call to action to confront the legacies of slavery and exploitation, and to work towards a more just and equitable future for all.

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