Ways of Seeing

Waysof Seeing

Accordingto Berger (2008), one must see first before he speaks. In order toexplain the world surrounding, one must first look around since theact makes it easy for one to relate accordingly to the environment.It is more appropriate and convenient to speak about what one hasseen than what one has never laid their eyes on. He continues to saythat there exists a gap between the words that are used to explain anenvironment and what has been seen. Finding the exact words todescribe what has seen, more so in a universally acceptable manner,is a difficult task and varies from one person to another. The aim ofthis paper is to describe the photo using the concept drawn from JohnBergerac book “.”

Thepicture comprises of two women: a white and a black woman. The whitewoman is sleeping on a cozy bed while naked while the black woman isstanding beside the bed. The white woman is sleeping on white sheetsand pillow that seems to have some brown and orange flowers. Theblack woman is holding a white pillow with green and brown flowers.She has wrapped a piece of cloth round her head, but the white womanhas well-kept hair. The woman has jewels on her neck and right hand.She has covered her nakedness with her left hand, and she has hershoes on. There are no writings on the wall that can help indescribing what exactly is happening.

Itseems like the black woman is trying to enquire something from thewhite but she is not concerned. The black woman is twisting her neckover her shoulder to capture the attention of the white woman, butthe white woman is looking away. The expression on the black woman’sface displays inquisitiveness, while the one on the white’s faceshows she is not interested or concerned. The resting of her (thewhite woman) left leg over her right one also implies she is payingless attention to the black woman. There are green and brown curtainsthat either decorate the room or are used to separate that room fromother rooms. The white woman seems to be ready for the photo sinceshe is looking directly into the camera whereas the black woman seemsnot to realize there is any camera in the room. It seems she is busytaking care of the needs of the white. There is a black cat on thelower side of the bed. The whites like animal pets and treat themwith a lot of care. That is why it is on the bed and no one seems tobother it. The cat seems to be looking at the camera as well, meaningit is aware of the photo being taken. However, considering theposition and posture of the cat, it seems to have accompanied theblack woman into the room. Had it been on the bed together with thewhite woman, it could be closer to her or even sleeping besides her. Its tail can be seen raised, meaning it has just climbed on to thebed.

Otherthan the two women, the curtains the pillows and carvings, there areno other things near to show whether the place is a bedroom or not.The nakedness of the white woman cannot be easily explained since sheis with another woman in the room and not a man. If she was with aman, it could be said that she wanted to make the man happy. Maybethe person taking the photo is a man. The White woman is completelynaked while the black has covered herself everywhere maybe to abideby the African culture. The African women are known to cover theirbodies fully which is a sign of respect unlike the white.The photo shows that the white are stilldormant over the blacks, and the blacks continue to serve as slavesto the white. Race discrimination continues to be part and parcel ofthe culture of the artist. The central theme of this image fits to beslavery and racism. The culture of the artist seems to be still boundby race and discrimination. The white woman is comfortably lying onthe bed while the black appears to be begging to make her morecomfortable. The white seems not friendly, and maybe she is the boss.That is why the black does not look neat. She has not made her hair,or maybe she has to cover it to show her inferiority in that she is aservant. The artist has played a role in reminding the people thatslavery and racism exists.


Berger,J. (2008). Waysof seeing(Vol. 474). Penguin UK.