Serving Time


The cultural historian George Lipsitz has commented on this piece: “The descendants of yesterday’s slaves and servants are not free; millions of them are serving time in jails and prisons while others are locked into low-wage jobs and locked out of upward mobility. By associating contemporary incarceration with historical slavery and Jim Crow segregation, Saar renders the cage as evidence of the oppressor’s cruelty rather than as a representation of the deserved fate of the oppressed.”

Betye Saar
Serving Time, 2010
Metal cage with stand, figures, keys, and locks
Collection of Neil Lane. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California.© Betye Saar.
Robert Wedemeyer

Audio: Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles