Door of No Return
I created the slave house Door of No Return image on Gorée Island. This island, located one-half mile off the coast of Senegal, was the main transfer point of enslaved Africans to various parts of the world. While visiting the House of Slaves museum, many African-Americans are overwhelmed by grief, sadness and anger. During the one-hour tour, I separated myself from the group and began photographing. I didn’t share the emotions many felt that day. But later that night, as I drifted off to sleep, I had an experience I’m sure I’ll remember forever.
In this dream state, I was one of these terribly frightened Africans chained to several other terrified souls. I could smell the stench that filled the inhumane cells. I felt the sweat from trembling bodies as we huddled together, fearing the worst. From near and far I heard crying and moaning as the swollen, desperate eyes of my fellow captives searched for the loved ones they once held close. Overwrought with grief, I lashed out at a slave trader, then, after a vicious whipping, I was thrown into a cell no more than three feet high and three feet wide. With my body painted with blood, sweat and sand, I reached overhead to measure the confines of this hellish fate and let loose a horrifying scream.
I awoke the next morning with my body full of the grief and sadness others must have felt the day before at Gorée. For most of that day I lay in the sun, grateful for that experience and for my full and free life. This slave house image and the others I made will always serve as a reminder of my time on Gorée. ~ Lenny Foster
In 2007 Lenny Foster was recognized as a Taos Living Master by the Taos Fall Arts Committee in New Mexico. For the last thirteen years he has owned and operated the Living Light Photography Gallery, which recently relocated to the Historic Joseph Liebert House in downtown Taos. Foster’s work has been exhibited in such prominent institutions as the Harwood Museum of Art, the Millicent Rogers Museum, and the Albuquerque Museum, and it is in the permanent collection of the Muhammed Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and in many private collections. Foster’s first e-book, Healing Hands: Peace, Prayer and Love, is due out in spring 2011.
Photograph and text © Lenny Foster. For permission to reprint, contact the artist at email@example.com.