Dagmar Van Weeghel

b. 1974, Holland

For Sarah - No Tea No Sugar, 2016
Photographic print
Edition of 5

Text and image courtesy African Arty Gallery, Morocco, France
This photograph is from the The African Princess series. In it Van Weeghel pays homage to Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a young girl from a royal family in Egbado, in West Africa, who was orphaned in a brutal massacre at the age of four and captured into slavery by King Ghezo of Dahomey. Sarah was then given to Captain Fredrick E. Forbes of the Royal Navy as ‘a gift’. In a remarkable twist of events, Sarah was liberated from enslavement, and became a goddaughter to Queen Victoria.

Van Weeghel combined empathy for the historical figure as well as the sitter in the photograph, 2011 former Miss Uganda runner up, Kajote Barbara, an entrepreneur now living in Belgium, who was orphaned at eight and has struggled as a black woman living in Europe.

Throughout the series Van Weeghel shows the subject pensive, distant, and in a world far from where she is placed. Some images show Sarah resisting the view of the camera, often appearing uncomfortable and at times, confrontational and angry.

Her braided hair subtly challenges the ‘Victorian’ aesthetic, asserting her African identity and beauty.