Harlem on my mind (forthcoming essay on Dawoud Bey’s photos of Harlem)

“Harlem: Found Ways” is a new exhibition opening today at The Cooper Gallery at Harvard University that “presents artistic visions and engagements specific to Harlem, New York City, in the last decades.” Check it out if you are in Cambridge this summer!

And, look for an essay by yours truly in the exhibition catalogue reflecting on Dawoud Bey’s two important photographic series Harlem, U.S.A. and Harlem Redux, selections of which are featured in the show. These preview photos are courtesy of Dawoud.

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I love archives: The amazing Katherine Dunham

Eighty years ago this month, an anthropologist named Katherine Dunham made her New York City dance debut at the 92nd Street Y. The 28 year old Chicago native choreographed and performed with her own company of dancers as part of “A Negro Dance Evening” organized by fellow dancers Edna Guy and Allison Burroughs. Born in […]

via Katherine Dunham in New York City — MCNY Blog: New York Stories

New exhibition of photos of 1957 civil rights march by Lee Friedlander

Check out this exhibition Let Us March On: Lee Friedlander and the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom at the Yale University Art Gallery curated by my former student, La Tanya Autry.

The Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a virtually forgotten civil rights gathering at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on May 17, 1957, was photographed by Lee Friendlander.

This look back can hopefully provide inspiration for our trying times…

 

 

James Barnor, photographer

Having spent several summers in Accra, I was delighted to learn about the incredible photographer, James Barnor, who operated the Ever Young studio in Jamestown. Autograph mounted an exhibition of his work: http://autograph-abp.co.uk/exhibitions/james-barnor-ever-young and an accompanying monograph has been published of his work. He has visited the US for the first time and spoke at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Celestial Sphere, Color Movies, Gardens on Parade!

Worthy cause.

MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Ephemera from the Collection on the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair.  Museum of the City of New York, X2013.156.6024.Promotional ephemera from the Collection on the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Museum of the City of New York, X2013.156.6.

Help the Museum digitize its 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair Collection!

The Museum’s New York World’s Fair collections continue to be a major resource for researchers all over the globe, and past research inquiries span a broad range of subjects, including: small format cinema technology, Cleveland artists who exhibited at the 1939 American Art building, and the Fair’s poetry contest.  The Museum first shared information about these collections in January 2013, shortly after learning we had received funding from Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to embark upon a collaborative 18-month project with the Queens Museum of Art to make our collections from both the 1939/40 and 1964/65 New York World’s Fairs more accessible as a result of a generous grant from the Council on Library and…

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F. Holland Day, Imperial Masculinity, and the Intimacy of Photography

Prepping a talk on F. Holland Day for a symposium. Here is my co-panelist, Shawn Michelle Smith’s take on him.

The Photographic Situation

Shawn Michelle Smith reflects on F. Holland Day’s exotic look and intimate looking

In the spring of 1901, F. Holland Day arrived unannounced at Frederick Evans’s studio in London, wearing a burnoose.  Evans invited him in to be photographed, and the two collaborated in making a series of intimate portraits of Day in Algerian dress.[i]  The portraits correspond to the height of Day’s international prominence as promoter and practitioner of the New American School of photography, a movement devoted to establishing photography as an art form through Pictorialist aesthetics.  After receiving mixed reviews in London, Day’s New American School exhibition was a huge success at the Photo-Club of Paris in the spring of 1901.  The exhibition showcased the work of Clarence White, Edward Steichen, and Day himself, among others, and included images from Day’s sacred series and his so-called “Nubian” series.  After the exhibition closed in Paris, Day and his young…

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Sponsored Love: Take Wing And Soar & New Heritage Theatre Group Presents “The Importance Of Being Earnest”

While I am not opposed to the idea of re-incarnating Wilde from a African American perspective, I do find this poster questionable. This imagery is very reminiscent of the caricatured theatrical and entertainment venue ephemera of the interwar period when Harlem was in vogue, but racism and racialism very much alive. I know I suffer from racial paranoia when it comes to visual culture but all too often imagery that is meant to valorize African Americans is too reminiscent of pejorative imagery.

 

Duke Ellington’s Symphony in Black, Starring A 19-Year-old Billie Holiday (video)

Daughters of the Dust

I recently gave a talk at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts about the film Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash. It is an amazing film – it is definitely in my Top 10 list of all time favorites. So I thought I would share this recent video about the Gullah who are the formerly enslaved Africans featured in the film.

Slave Descendants Uphold African Roots

Sammy Davis Jr. Performing Mr. Bojangles

To follow my earlier post, a performance by the master: