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Documentary photographers sometimes wonder what kind of impact their work has, but Gillian Laub knows hers has inspired real change. When she started photographing proms in Mt. Vernon, Georgia, in 2002, they were segregated. There was a white prom and a black prom — only Mexicans could attend both — and two separate crowns for two separate queens.
Then in 2009, the New York Times Magazine published some of the images that make up Laub’s series Southern Rites, and it caused such an uproar that the town finally desegregated its proms — more than five decades after Brown v. Board of Education. But that triumph seemed small to many in the community by 2011, when an elderly white man shot and killed 22-year-old Justin Patterson, one of Laub’s black subjects.
Laub explored that story in a documentary by the same title that premiered on HBO in May. But the images, taken over 12 years and on view through Saturday at the Benrubi Gallery, remain invaluable windows into modern racial tensions. They reveal the hypocrisy of the older generation — in this case the parents, school administrators, and local politicians who perpetuated a racist culture in their town — and how it damages the optimism of the younger. It also propagates the hatred of the past, as seen most recently in the case of Dylan Roof.
Despite what happened in South Carolina last week, Laub’s work also proffers a tantalizing hope: that through such American high schoolers, bedazzled in sequins and satin and dancing at their only recently integrated prom, true societal transformation and justice may come.
Art by Athena LaTocha, Wendy Red Star, Marianne Nicolson, Anita Fields, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith & Neal Ambrose-Smith, and more is on view through January 2022.
Unless you were already familiar with Bey’s documentary work, the horror he refers to might not be recognizable to you.
The intention behind the seemingly bizarre combination was, according to Attie, “to give visual form to the shared American and Brazilian reality of nationalistic divisions that defines our political present.”
Nowhere in the museums’ advertising blitzkrieg for the performance were we told to bring our wildfire-season masks as well as our covid masks, and covid masks don’t prevent smoke inhalation.
View work by over 40 experimental artists and collectives from throughout the Americas who contributed to New York’s art scene during the 1960s and ’70s.
Several members of the 2021 cohort identify as artists and storytellers, utilizing the power that art and narrative have on changing ideas of power.
Made possible by a donation from Amazon stakeholder MacKenzie Scott, the award is the single largest in the Bedstuy-based organization’s history.
A donation of two hundred works includes Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, and Donald Baechler.