Exhibition: 8 Sep – 3 Dec 2016
Fri 23 Sep 17:00 - 20:00
Stephen Daiter Gallery
230 W. Superior St.
IL 60654 Chicago
Harlem Redux marks photographer Dawoud Bey’s return to the community that was the site of his first completed project Harlem, USA (1975-1979). Before he was born, Bey’s parents met and lived in Harlem – this family history served as the inspiration for this work. Some forty years later, the artist returned to photograph the neighborhood, a response to a sense that its unique character and identity are in flux. In these new images Bey shows Harlem in transition, once vibrant and celebrated, giving way to a more gentrified and homogenized present. Intent on depicting this change as it takes place, Harlem Redux seeks to answer the question – What does a community look like while undergoing such a dramatic transformation?
“I returned to visualize a Harlem in the midst of profound change. Due to increasing gentrification, demographic shifts are permanently altering the social and physical landscape, bringing both new amenities and population displacement, resulting in a radical reshaping of the built environment.”
The large scale color photographs in Harlem Redux mark a departure for Bey, who has long been noted for his portrait work. The photographs include urban landscapes and subtle, yet poignant details of the changing environment – together they reveal a much deeper truth: “For this project I’ve adopted a more open-ended strategy for making the work. Rather than beginning with a particular formal or conceptual framework in place, I have let the circumstances themselves guide my choices and ultimately shape the work. This has resulted in a varied group of pictures that work together to form a larger narrative about absence, memory, change, and loss. Harlem is a community that is increasingly defined by a sense of “erase-and-replace,” wherein pieces of social and cultural history, along with memory itself, are routinely being discarded, with only the nostalgic residue of that memory being evoked.”