What does it mean for Beyoncé to center black culture, black beauty, and black struggle in the symbolic heart of Western culture and high art? How powerful is the juxtaposition of these images: black women seated in front of Winged Victory (a.k.a. Nike) claiming her anonymity (an ancient bust without arms or a head) as their own. The video reclaims images of black people in Western art by showing that they have always been present and as such, remedies the ways that they have been ignored or overlooked in this tradition. Moreover, the viewer’s repeated encounters with images of scalp greasing in front of the Mona Lisa makes iconic traditions of black hair styling and maintenance.
Protest is art and art is necessary for protest
Waging a battle on the landscape of artistic representation for public consumption, Beyoncé challenges toxic depictions of black women, black people and black bodies in society. Ornamented in wealth, Beyoncé is looking particularly THICK in that Burberry fit standing next to the icon of Venus and other Greek sculptural figures that are equally as thick. In a single shot, she upends dominant ideas of desirability and connects her own bodily archetype to age-old classical motifs that society has since forgotten.
Like her previous visual albums, Beyoncé once more weaves together political resistance and artist production, thus affirming that protest is art and that art is necessary for protest.