Renee Cox (born 1958) is a Jamaican American artist who uses her own body to celebrate the many facets of black womanhood, and to critique the pervasive racism and sexism in contemporary society. In Baby Back (2001), Cox poses on a lavish yellow couch, nude save for red high heels. She holds a whip in her right hand and presents the viewer with a profile view of her face, raised high in a defiant pose. In using a large-format photograph that presents her as an icon of strength and beauty, Cox engages with self-representation and self-presentation. Cox intentionally adopts the Odalisque pose, the sexually available other of the Orientalist tradition. She invokes that dynamic in order to disrupt it, depicting herself as the vessel of power in this image.  

Renee Cox, American, born 1956
Baby Back, 2001
Archival digital “C” print mounted on aluminum
100 x 144 in.
Purchased through the Sondra and Charles Gilman, Jr. Foundation Fund and the Fund for Contemporary Photography; 2008.31
© Renee Cox