Photography that focuses on Community

Step into spring with three photography exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, opening May 3, 2019

Photography that focuses on Community

Step into spring with three photography exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, opening May 3, 2019, that focus on community in New York City and around the world, as well as expanding our understanding of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising and its legacy.

Garry Winogrand: Color

Garry Winogrand: Color is the first exhibition dedicated to the nearly forgotten color photographs of Garry Winogrand (1928–1984), one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century. While almost exclusively known for his black-and-white images that pioneered a “snapshot aesthetic” in contemporary art, Winogrand produced more than 45,000 color slides between the early 1950s and late 1960s.

Coming from a working-class background in the Bronx and practicing at the time when photographs had little market value, Winogrand did not have the resources to produce costly and time consuming prints of his color slides during his lifetime. Yet, he remained dedicated to the medium for nearly twenty years.

The exhibition presents an enveloping installation of large-scale projections comprising more than 400 rarely or never-before seen color photographs that capture the social and physical landscape of New York City and the United States. On his numerous journeys through Midtown Manhattan and across the country, Winogrand explored the raw visual poetics of public life—on streets and highways, in suburbs, at motels, theaters, fairgrounds, and amusement parks. For him, the industrially manufactured color film, which was used by commercial and amateur photographers, perfectly reproduced the industrially manufactured colors of consumer goods in postwar America. By presenting this group of largely unknown color work, Garry Winogrand: Color sheds new light on the career of this pivotal artist as well as the development of color photography before 1970.

Garry Winogrand (American, 1928–1984). Untitled (New York), 1960.
35mm color slide. Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona.
© The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha

Journey through intimate photographs by this Ghanaian Russian artist who, for the past thirty years, has captured the beauty and distinctiveness of Black love, family, and friendship across the African diaspora.

Brooklyn is where it all started for Russian Ghanaian artist Liz Johnson Artur (b. 1964). While visiting in 1986, she stayed with a Russian family in a predominantly Black neighborhood and began experimenting with her first camera. Having grown up in Bulgaria, Germany, and Russia, she was inspired by her visit to use photography as a way to connect with other people of African descent. Since moving to London in 1991, she has employed photography not only to make a living—publishing work in magazines such as i-D and The Face—but also to document the multiplicity of everyday life in Africa, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean.

Dusha, the Russian word for “soul,” is Johnson Artur’s first solo museum exhibition. It primarily features a selection of photographic works, including photo “sketchbooks” and videos, that draw from her vast Black Balloon Archive. This includes some of her most iconic pictures from the past thirty years as well as new photographs, such as portraits of people associated with a monthly East London club night. A copious selection of the artist's photographic sketchbooks highlights the ways in which she has organized and conceptualized her Archive since the early 1990s. Two videos and a sound installation show how she focuses on the unique voices of her subjects, from the stories of other Russians of African and Caribbean descent to a visual and audio portrait of legendary Ghanaian photographer James Barnor.

Liz Johnson Artur (born Bulgaria, 1964). Josephine, Peckham, 1995.
Chromogenic photograph, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 60.9 cm).
Courtesy of the artist. © Liz Johnson Artur

 

 

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall

Five decades after the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, in the city where it took place, experience the work of twenty-two LGBTQ+ artists, all born after the Uprising, who pay tribute to activist foreparents and ask how we will care for future generations. The exhibit runs May 3 to December 8, 2019.

It takes its title from the rallying words of transgender artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson, aiming to expand the collective understanding of the Stonewall Uprising’s legacy for today’s LGBTQ+ communities. The summer 1969 revolt at The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s West Village, was a landmark moment in the queer liberation and gay rights movement in the United States. However, in the ensuing decades the crucial role of transgender women of color and homeless LGBTQ+ youth in the Uprising, as well as the radical politics the rebellion embodied, have been largely marginalized by the mainstream gay rights movement. The exhibition sheds light on alternative narratives, including those of individual participants, while also exploring the realities of our current political moment through the work of artists from the vanguard of contemporary art.

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall is organized by an inter- departmental group of five curators, each of whom brings a unique perspective to the curatorial process. The exhibition will touch all corners of the Brooklyn Museum, with work on view in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, a related Resource Room for further learning, expanded public and educational programming, and new institutional initiatives. This multidimensional approach to curation emphasizes the Brooklyn Museum’s dedication to inspiring conversations through art and providing community members with a place to have those conversations.

“The Brooklyn Museum has long been committed to providing a platform for those courageous enough to confront and question history,” says Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum. “With Nobody Promised You Tomorrow, we’re telling a more inclusive story of the Stonewall Uprising that connects it directly to the remarkably diverse community of LGBTQ+ artists carrying on the legacy of Stonewall now and into the future.”

The exhibition features artists Mark Aguhar, Felipe Baeza, Morgan Bassichis, David Antonio Cruz, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, John Edmonds, Mohammed Fayaz, Camilo Godoy, Jeffrey Gibson, Hugo Gyrl, Juliana Huxtable, Rindon Johnson, Elektra KB, Linda LaBeija, Park McArthur, Elle Pérez, LJ Roberts, Tuesday Smillie, Tourmaline, Kiyan Williams, Sasha Wortzel, and Constantina Zavitsanos. Their work will be displayed across four sections that explore themes of Revolt, Heritage, Desire, and Care Networks. These themes expand upon the prevailing understanding of the Stonewall Uprising and its legacy.

“In the Revolt section, drawings and films trace the lives and honor the actions of those who organized for change before and after Stonewall, while contemporary protest signs transform into artworks that uplift and riff on activist legacies. Figures like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, and Marlon Riggs are commemorated in the Heritage section, which also focuses on how gentrification and violence continue to affect queer communities today,” the group of five exhibition curators explains. “The artworks in Desire explore attraction and intimacy, while moving into a space of imagining and organizing toward more equitable futures and new ways of living. In Care Networks, artists visualize their networks of affinity, support, friendship, and nightlife that provide emotional sustenance as well as spaces for experimentation and liberation.”

Artists included in the exhibition have worked individually and in collaboration to grapple with the unique conditions and questions of the current political moment. The Brooklyn Museum has commissioned new works specifically for the exhibition. They include Tourmaline’s new film Salacia, which depicts Mary Jones, a Black transgender woman who lived in New York City during the early nineteenth century, as she carves out a life for herself—and a legacy for generations thereafter—in the face of systemic racism and transphobia. LJ Roberts’s Stormé at Stonewall is a large-scale sculpture that pays tribute to the diverse participants in the Stonewall Uprising—particularly lesbian activist Stormé DeLarverie—whose stories are often erased by popular media. Morgan Bassichis has created an interactive installation inspired by the radical communal living practices of Lavender Hill, a commune founded outside of Ithaca, New York, in the late 1960s. Numerous performances have also been commissioned as part of the robust schedule of public programs in conjunction with the exhibition.