Past

Represented, revered and recognized by people around the world, Harlem is a continually expanding nexus of black culture, history and iconography. Venerable landmarks such as the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Apollo Theater, Hotel Theresa, Audubon Ballroom and 125th Street remain popular emblems of important historic moments and moods. The Studio Museum’s ongoing series, Harlem Postcards, invites contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds to reflect on Harlem as a site for artistic contemplation and production. Installed in the museum lobby and available to visitors, Harlem Postcards presents intimate views and fresh perspectives on this famous neighborhood. In Spring 2007, we featured images by Jonathan Calm, Xavier Cha, Touhami Ennadre and Berni Searle.

Jonathan Calm

Wagner Runoff #1, 2007

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This photograph, titled Wagner Runoff #1, is the first in a series called Runoffs. It reflects personal ruminations on my childhood memories of home in an urban housing complex. Like memory itself, each photograph is a reflection, in this case a standing pool of water on a playground. The stillness of the water becomes a mirror in which I see not just the building but also a portrait of my early self. The blue sky matches my youthful optimism to explore life beyond the complex. Together the playground, water, building, and sky capture a point of origin where I am touched by the idealism of my youth and my adult ambivalence when I reconsider that place and time.

Born 1971, Brooklyn, NY
Lives and works in New York, NY
 

Xavier Cha

Sense in Front, 2007

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front in back
sense in front
 

Born 1980, Los Angeles, CA
Lives and works in New York, NY
 

Touhami Ennadre

Lenox Lounge, 2004

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At the Lenox Lounge, at this very moment, the heartbeat of Harlem echoed in everyone’s hearts. The echoes took form in music and dance, generating a spirit and energy that united us all.

Born 1953, Casablanca, Morocco
Lives and works in Paris, France
 

Berni Searle

DSC00123.JPG, 2007

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Taken from the top of an open air tourist bus which passed by the wake of James Brown at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem on the 28th December 2006, DSC00123.JPG is a snapshot of an event that I encountered by chance, reflecting my own transient position in relation to what I saw. Barricades, police, and masses of people could signal a very different set of circumstances depending on your experiences and where you’re coming from. On the other hand, the long queues of people paying their last respects to James Brown are reminiscent of the snake-like formations of people who stood for hours to vote in the first South African democratic elections in 1994. Each attest to the determination of people to have their sentiments and voices heard.

Born 1964, Cape Town, South Africa
Lives and works in New York, NY and Cape Town, South Africa