Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
17.04.2021 — 3.10.2021
By Ariane Noël de Tilly
Since the very inception of his photographic career, Dawoud Bey has pointed his lens toward people and, especially, marginalized communities. The retrospective of his work presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art highlighted the ethical dimension of his creative process, his close collaboration with the people he photographs, and the social and political function that he confers upon photography.
Visitors’ immersion in Bey’s world started with a selection from his series Harlem, U.S.A., an evocative and inspiring chronicle of the Manhattan neighbourhood between 1975 and 1979. In this series, Bey’s goal, which was to grant greater visibility to the subjects photographed and to present them without prejudice or artifice – as proud, hardworking, happy people – is reminiscent of that of James Van Der Zee, who made numerous portraits of African Americans living in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s. Harlem, U.S.A. brings together spontaneous images, caught on the fly, some of which give an early glimpse of the spirit of collaboration with his subjects that Bey would develop further in the following decade…
Translated by Käthe Roth.
[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 119 – AGAINST NATURE ]
[ Complete article and more images, in digital version, available here: Dawoud Bey — Ariane Noël de Tilly ]