Throughout the twentieth century, Harlem has been regarded as a beacon of African-American history and culture. Sites such as the Apollo Theater, Abyssinian Baptist Church, and Malcolm X Corner at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue serve as popular postcard images that represent significant places and moments in this community. Today, Harlem continues to evolve as a center of history and culture. Everyday, residents, experienced tourists, and visitors from all over the world witness its changes are. Harlem Postcards, an ongoing project, invites contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds to reflect on Harlem as a site of cultural activity, political vitality, visual stimuli, artistic contemplation and creative production. Representing intimate and dynamic perspectives of Harlem, the images reflect each artist’s oeuvre with an idiosyncratic snapshot taken of, or representing, this historic locale. Each photograph has been reproduced as a limited-edition postcard available free to visitors. This season we feature postcard images created by Marepe, Terence Koh and Xaviera Simmons.
The images I am working through have as their base the notion of “letting the language fall into itself,” as poet Ann Lauterbach has expressed, as a means to dealing with the art making practice. The works are designed to address a concern with language, with it’s implied meanings, conflicting notions, metaphors etc. These current images extend themselves to an exploration of the Black vernacular and physical landscape as a foundation.
The images are portraits and self portraits that explore the subjective position of a non fixed and multiple identity. My work is accomplished using both the public environment (i.e. outside landscape, strangers) and a more traditional, private studio space. By this, the images often incorporate strangers and passersby’s; at times the passerby becomes part of the image and at other times he/she has a hand in the image making process. It is in this way that the audience/viewer of the process becomes a collaborator in the image making. I am excited to blur the boundaries of a studio practice with a public art making practice and an incorporation of performance (through self portraiture in the public landscape).