Thursday, August 18, 2011

Becoming: Questions of Identity at the Nasher

The Nasher Museum at Duke University has opened a major show of photographs now up through January 8th, 2012, called Becoming: Photographs From The Wedge Collection.

The official opening is September 14th. The show is a joint project of the Nasher Musuem and the Wedge Collection. The show was curated by The Wedge Curatorial Projects’ Director Kenneth Montague.

This exhibition brings together over a hundred photographs by more than 60 artists from Canada, the United States, Africa and throughout the African Diaspora. The show's title and organizing theme are taken from the writings of Stuart Hall, in his Cultural Identity and Diaspora (1990). Hall argues that "Cultural identity is a matter of ‘becoming’ as well as ‘being’. It belongs to the future as much as to the past… identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narrative of the past"

The goal of the exhibition is to explore the relationship between what the curators call "configurations of identity" and the practice of portrait photography in the last half-century.

Or, as the show's curator puts it, "Whether these images document an era or reflect on family histories, this compelling exhibition provides a vivid testimony to the increasing presence of artists who chose to reject the common tendency to view black communities in terms of conflict or stereotype. 

"Becoming offers a fresh exploration of the strength, beauty and complexity captured within representations of black life as it is both lived and imagined. Providing insights into the changing roles of the artist and subject, the camera is used to create scenes that vary from everyday realism to a staged universe. Some images have the look and feel of snapshots, while others convey a theatrical or cinematic positioning. Other works explore the conventions of the family portrait and family album within the dynamics of domestic space and implied perceptions of visuality and body politics."

Photographers whose work is in the show include Henry Clay Anderson, Michele D. Arthur, James Barnor, Janette Beckman, Dawoud Bey, Deanna Bowen, Vanley Burke, Clement Cooper, Wiliam Cordova, Pete Doherty, Calvin Dondo, Alfredo Ramos Fernández and Katarzyna (Kasia) Badach, Tony Gleaton, Joy Gregory, Fred Herzog, Pieter Hugo, Ayana Jackson, Rashid Johnson, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Seydou Keita, Deana Lawson, Christna Leslie, Oumar Ly, Danny Lyon, Brendan Meadows, Sabelo Mlangeni, Anna Möller, Megan Morgan, Dennis Morris, Zanele Muholi, Keith Ng, Peggy Nolan, Stephanie Noritz, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Horace Ové, Dawit Petros, Charlie Phillips, Annabel Reyes, Milton Rogovin, Athi-Patra Ruga, Wayne Salmon, Vivian Sassen, Jürgen Schadeberg, Jamel Shabazz, Malick Sidibé, Xaviera Simmons, Aaron Siskind, Mikhael Subotzky, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, James VanDerZee, Camilo José Vergara, Cecil Norman Ward, Ian Watson, Carrie Mae Weems, and Simon Willms.

That's a stunning list of photographers. For a small selection of the work in the show, go HERE for the Nasher's account and HERE for the Wedge Collection's selections.

This promises to be a major assemblage of outstanding work, well worth your travel to Durham.

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