Photography and the Politics of Representation

Tue 3 May 2016 6.30PM-8.30PM Theresa Lang Community and Student Center
55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor
New York City
Free Admission
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Black American photographers have long turned to their art as immediate political rifts affect their communities, creating work that challenges dominant visual narratives in the media that is often produced by outsiders. Photography is a strategic platform of representation of the black experience in the U.S. and is crucial today as protests across the country demand civil rights and unveiling the legacies of structural racism. As a shared common space is increasingly associated with our image-saturated online presences, the distinctly political role of visual representations has become more apparent and extends beyond photography to include notions of the photographic.

The photographers on this panel cross a historical divide, some have been active since the 1960s while others became active more recently. Regardless their work responds to deep connections to a particular place, the communities that call it home, and photographic conventions of representing such places. This dedication to place and an expansion of the vocabulary of representation connect their work with demands for media dignity posed in other parts of the world. Sheila Pree Bright has been traveling across the south to capture intimate portraits of activists and presenting them alongside portraits of lesser known Civil Rights Movement youth leaders. Shikeith explores and challenges various roles that have been inscribed on the black male body. Steffani Jemison uses time-based, photographic and discursive platforms to examine "progress" and its alternatives. Taken together their work complicates dominant narratives in the image economy.

Sheila Pree Bright, artist
Steffani Jemison, artist
Shikeith, artist
Moderated by La Tanya Autry, art historian

The panel is presented as part of the Vera List Center's 2015-2017 curatorial focus on Post Democracy.

Photography and the Politics of Representation is a part of the Confounding Expectations lecture series, which is sponsored by Aperture Foundation, the Department of Photography at Parsons the New School for Design, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Charina Endowment Fund, William Talbott Hillman Foundation, Inc., the Board of Trustees and Members of Aperture Foundation, as well as the members of the Vera List Center Advisory Committee