From 1988 to 1991 Dawoud Bey made a series of portraits of African Americans in the streets of various American cities. Using a large-format tripod-mounted camera and a unique positive/negative Polaroid film that created both an instant print and a reusable negative, he asked a cross-section of the populations of these communities to pose for him, creating a space of self-presentation and performance in the streets of the urban environment.
As part of every encounter, Bey gave each person a small black-and-white Polaroid print for themselves as a way of reciprocating and returning something to the people who had allowed him to make their portrait. Defying racial stereotypes, the resulting portraits reveal the Black subjects in all of their psychologically rich complexity, presenting themselves openly and intimately to the camera, the viewer, and the world.
The book will be published by Mack Books in April 2021.
About the Author
Dawoud Bey (born 1953) began his career as an artist in 1975 with a series of photographs, Harlem, USA, that were later exhibited in his first one-person exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979.
He has since had numerous exhibitions worldwide, at such institutions as the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and other museums worldwide. His works are included in the permanent collections of over 50 museums throughout the United States and Europe.
In 2020, his work will be the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is a recipient of a 2017 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “genius grant”; a United States Artists fellow; and the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lucie Foundation, among other honors. Bey holds a master of fine arts degree from Yale University School of Art and is currently a Professor of Art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago, where he has taught since 1998. (via icp.org)