This is the last weekend to view an important, provocative, and beautiful exhibition of photography by four emerging Black artists whose work deals with current cultural narratives and the fight for civil rights. Called “Solidarity,” the show at Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Lenox, Mass., includes works by Jacob Borden, Yannis Davy Guibinga, Pops Peterson, and Shawn Theodore.
On view through this Monday, January 18, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the exhibit includes “The Problem Persists 1964 – 2014” by Pops Peterson, in which the artist appropriated the image of Ruby Bridges from Norman Rockwell’s 1964 painting, ““The Problem We All Live With”, placing Ruby walking through the crumbling landscape of the Ferguson riots. Viewing Peterson’s work just down the road from where Rockwell worked in Stockbridge, Mass., just makes it all the more real, relevant, and alive.
Jacob Borden’s images in this exhibition were created between May 28th and August 1st, 2020. The series begins in front of Minneapolis’ 3rd police precinct three days after the murder of George Floyd by officers. The series follows the subsequent demonstrations by the Black Lives Matter movement demanding racial equality and justice for George Floyd across the country. Images from demonstrations in New York, D.C., Boston and Portland are included. Federal officers deployed by the soon-to-depart Trump administration were met by a “wall of moms’’, wearing gas masks and protecting protesters from munitions and tear gas behind them. Borden captures the drama of these incidents in his crisp, precise, colorful, and suggestive images, where photojournalism meets art.
Yannis Davy Guibinga, a 25-year-old photographer from Libreville, Gabon, currently based in Montréal, has found strength and a tool in photography that allows him to not only celebrate but also to document and represent the many cultures and identities on the African continent and its diaspora. His portrait photography is a documentation of a new generation of Africans, unapologetically embracing their many identities and cultures in the face of globalization and Western cultural imperialism. His work also focuses on highlighting the diversity of African identities, as well as how these identities are created through the intersection of different factors such as gender, culture and socioeconomic status. Guibinga creates a world of powerful, beautiful and dignified Africans regardless of gender performance, class or sexual orientation. Included in this exhibition are images from his "The Darkest Colour" series, which uses the color black as a symbolism for darkness, mourning, and death. Through the study of the human form and the overwhelming presence of the color black, "The Darkest Colour" aims to interrogate, reinvestigate and redefine the stereotypes and preconceived notions about the color black itself, both within and without photography.
Philadelphia-based artist xST, whose real name is Shawn Theodore, is an award-winning photographer whose work opens broad conversations regarding the role of the photographer in the shaping of agency and imagery. Theodore’s staged imagery is painterly and defiant. He calls himself an “Afromythologist”,¸ and explains the term as “someone who questions official histories and explores the radical possibility of alternative narratives through the creation of a missing, yet necessarily specific, African American mythology.”
I can’t think of a better way to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday than to explore the work of these incredibly creative and provocative artists at Sohn Fine Art Gallery.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com
The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.