PDN Photo of the Day

Conversations About Black Masculinity

The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is hosting “In Conversation: Visual Meditations on Black Masculinity” one of the largest exhibitions of its kind.

It brings together 54 women and gender non-conforming photographers of African descent, hailing from nations including the USA, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Brazil, Haiti and the United Kingdom. They share interpretations, observations and their own experiences concerning the notions of Black men, masculinity, sexuality and gender identity.

The exhibit is guest curated by MFON co-founders Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Adama Delphine Fawundu.

“In Conversation” asks exhibition viewers to reconsider their preconceived notions about Blackness and masculinity. The exhibitions give a glimpse into each photographer’s ongoing series or collection of images creating a vast representation of Black male hood. The photographs in this exhibition reveal the imagemaker’s attempt to push the conversations and views of Black male hood beyond the simplicity of its stereotypes.

On co-curating the show Laylah Amatullah Barrayn said, “We had so many good images to choose from that one challenge we faced was editing them down! What I enjoyed most about working on the project was getting a better understanding of how in depth these photographers are invested in representation of Black masculinity – most of the photographers were already working on series that referenced this topic and we had the chance to engage in their work further which was really fulfilling. With this imagery we are expressing a broad representation of Black masculinity through the eyes and archives of women and non-binary photographers of African descent. This is the first and largest exhibition of its kind.”

Just some of the exhibiting photographers include: Adama Jalloh, Adreinne Waheed, Akhira Montague, Alyssa Pointer, Aysha Ray-Walker, Bre’Ann White, Cheriss May, Collette Fournier, Cydni Elledge, Dana Scruggs, Danielle ‘Jazz’ Noel, Deborah Willis, Delphine Diallo, Esther Ruth Mbabazi, Etinosa Yvonne, Eurila Cave, Faith Couch, , Jana Williams, Jen Strickland, Kennedi Carter, Kym Scott, Lola Flash, Lynsey N. Weatherspoon, Marilyn Nance, Melissa Alcena, Melissa Alexander, Michelle Agins, Natalie Eddings, Nicole Najmah Abraham, Phobymo, Phylicia Ghee, Renee Cox, Sabine Ostinvil, Salimah Ali, Samantha Box, Sheila Pree Bright, Stephanie Mei-Ling, Susan Ross, Tolani Alli, Toni Black, Tracy Keza, Valda Nogueira, Victoria Ford, Yodith Dammlash, Zalika Azim and Zephyr Doles.

Also included in the show is Jana Williams who took the image she’s exhibiting at the West Indian American Day Parade. She explained her image in the show in a little more depth: “I like to call this image “Baby Blue”, because I noticed how cool this passerby looked in his matching baby blue du-rag and sweatpants – before seeing his muscles. Moving stealthily through the crowds taking photos, I immediately stopped the young man to capture his likeness, without thinking about how I participate in the creation of images and their representation of identities and cultures.

“Baby Blue” fits into this conversation on black masculinity through its demonstration of the black female gaze, observing and reclaiming the black male body from the dominant white capitalist culture. A moment of actively looking or just staring at this man, would produce what I believe is a sensitive portrayal of a cool and confident black male having a very vulnerable human exchange with the opposite sex. An honest representation of Black masculinity that isn’t toxic, confrontational, or overly sexualized but acknowledges an innocent attraction.

I’d like for viewers to meditate on and question their ideas of gender roles and consider how those ideas are negotiated in their everyday lives. I’d like for viewers to observe how the works in this show help to construct a counter narrative to racial capitalisms definition of black masculinity.”

— Samantha Reinders

** Valda Nogueira, whose image appears in the slideshow, tragically lost her life earlier this month. PDN sends love and condolences to her family and friends.

“In Conversation: Visual Meditations on Black Masculinity”
The African American Museum in Philadelphia
Through March 1, 2020

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  1. Excellent exhibition co-curated by two of the world’s finest photographers. Worth the trip to the African American Museum of Philadelphia to experience the talents and share the vision of 54 African American Women photographers!

  2. Sadly, I’m unlikely to get there. Will there be a book of this exhibit? This looks like a fascinating statement about the cultural construction of masculnity.

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