Dennis Morris: Growing Up Black

In this selection from his archive, Dennis Morris gives us a beautifully well-judged and eloquent portrait of the black diaspora, frozen at a particular moment in time. It is pregnant with anticipations of what is still to come, infused with future possibilities. We are invited to read these images backwards and forwards. Growing up black in the 1970s, they suggest, was not so much a state of being as a state of becoming.

— Stuart Hall

Growing Up Black charts not just the history of Black Britain but Britain itself. Published by our friends at Autograph ABP, the renowned photographer Dennis Morris captures intimate moments within the black community, his images recording the frequently contested history of the first generation to call themselves black.

Dennis Morris started his career as a photographer at an early age. He was 11 years old when one of his photographs was printed on the front page of the Daily Mirror. As a young boy in the church choir, he was given a camera which was to spark his lifelong passion for photography. Growing Up Black is a beautifully designed, thought provoking monograph which documents domestic life in 1960s and 70s Hackney, East London, where Morris moved with his family aged 4.

To accompany the black and white photographs and Morris’ own text are four compelling essays by key commentators on black culture – essayist and broadcaster, Professor Stuart Hall; writer and lecturer Kobena Mercer; author, broadcaster and award winning columnist, Gary Younge; and Director of Autograph ABP, Mark Sealy.

Limited to an edition of 500 with a signed silver gelatin print by Dennis Morris, Growing Up Black blurs the boundaries between social commentary and art object and reveals the foundations of Dennis Morris’ photographic journey.

Find more information about the publication here.

Light Work Annual 2012: Jen Davis

Untitled No. 16, 2005, Jen Davis

…Davis, over and over again, suspends time, makes the presence of the camera disappear, and leaves us with her variously charged observations of one individual momentarily alone with herself in the world. The mundane is here raised to the level of various small dramas. We are reminded in looking at these pictures of how the physical presence of this one woman looking intently at herself mirrors the ways in which so many women look at themselves and see not the photoshopped representations of commercial culture, but something more dimensional, complex, and far more engaging.

– Dawoud Bey, artist and writer

Read the rest of the essay in Contact Sheet 167: The Light Work Annual 2012.

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Light Work Annual 2012: Dana Popa

The pictures have few clues, just shadows and light, and the unsettling quality of the color in the images. In the peeling concrete walls and the shabby materials, in the absence of anything that seems to belong to anyone, there is the silence of space that hides what happens there. The facts are not exactly hidden from us, but it is hard to look at them all the time or even very often, particularly the statistics.

– Wendy Watriss, curator, writer, photographer, author, and co-founder and artistic director of FotoFest International

Read the rest of the essay in Contact Sheet 167: The Light Work Annual 2012.

Subscribe to Contact Sheet here.

Light Work Annual 2012: Cui Fei

Tracing the Origin VIII, 2010, Cui Fei

Much like breath itself, Cui Fei’s work rises and falls between two and three dimensions. Large wall-hung paper works recall ancient scrolls. Other work is sculptural in itself or its presentation–sheets of paper laid over low platforms or cascading down steps or written directly on the floor. Photographic processes let some projects flatten the image while others billow with shape and shadow.

– Nancy Keefe Rhodes

Read the rest of the essay in Contact Sheet 167: The Light Work Annual 2012.

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Light Work Annual 2012: Shane Lavalette

Will with Banjo, 2011, Shane Lavalette

Shane Lavalette’s pictures are visually straightforward, obsessively clear, and devoted to the metaphysical idea that direct observation can be beamed through a lens to a viewer. They are quiet pictures that build to a boisterous whole. They speak from the endlessly renewed place of the photographic expeditioner who loves the world and knows it’s a well that never runs dry.

– Tim Davis, photographer, video artist, writer, and musician

Read the rest of the essay in Contact Sheet 167: The Light Work Annual 2012.

Subscribe to Contact Sheet here.

Susan Worsham: Conversations with Margaret Daniel

Susan Worsham’s exhibition Bittersweet/Bloodwork features audio recordings of Worsham and her older neighbor Margaret Daniel’s conversations about plants, life, and death. All together, the photographs and accompaniments in Bittersweet/Bloodwork speak of the poetry of childhood, nature, discovery, love, and loss.

“I can remember one particular time when I visited Margaret,” says Worsham. “I looked out of her large picture window and saw what looked like a nest or hammock of small red berries draped between the winter trees. I asked Margaret what it was. She answered, ‘Why, that’s bittersweet. Bittersweet on Bostwick Lane.’”

Read more about Susan Worsham’s Bittersweet/Bloodwork here.

Community Darkrooms Member Spotlight: Bob Burdick

Community Darkrooms Member Spotlight

Bob Burdick has been a long-time Community Darkrooms member, with his first visit taking place in 1977 when co-founders Tom Brian and Phil Block were here to greet him. According to Bob, “The nice thing about this facility is that it is and always has been open to anyone.” He especially enjoys being around the other artists who use Community Darkrooms because he gets to show people what he is doing and he can learn what others are up to. Recently, with the help of CD’s digital expert John Mannion, Bob was able to scan a medium format negative, make adjustments, and output it so he could make the perfect platinum print. Then he and Lab Manager Andy Baugnet took to the darkroom and coated a few sheets of Rives BFK paper and began testing the process with exposure in full sun for about ten minutes. Bob’s persistence and passion resulted in the creation of Cedar Tree, Clark Reservation, 1980.

If you have an interest in learning more about any area of photography, now is the time to investigate all that Community Darkrooms has to offer. Exciting Fall courses are now listed on our website and there will undoubtedly be something to fit your interests and skill level—whether it’s a three-hour Single Session Workshop called Camera Basics on Location which will cover everything from turning your camera on to figuring out the built-in-flash unit, or you want to immerse yourself in a 4-week Firm Foundation Workshop called Fine Art Digital Printing which is for the advanced image maker who wants to make the “perfect” print, or anywhere in between—you can find it here at a great price!

Light Work Annual 2012: Andrew Miksys

Miksys builds his Byelorussian itinerary as a conceptual maneuver, following the ideological formulas of mass celebrations of Soviet history in expectation of finding memories of the present. He shows us the hollowness of history–the aftermath of the ersatz Soviet celebrations–and three generations of women.

– Laimonas Briedis, author of Vilnius: City of Strangers

Read the rest of the essay in Contact Sheet 167: The Light Work Annual 2012.

Subscribe to Contact Sheet here.

Light Work Annual 2012: Amy Elkins

14/38 (Not the Man I Once Was), 2009, Amy Elkins

In each cell an inmate eats, sleeps and pretty much exists for 22½ hours a day. The other 1½ hours you are allowed alone in a small concrete yard with cement walls of about 20 feet high and on top is a metal grate—and through that grate you are offered the only piece of the outside world for anyone that is placed in this environment. The blue sky, unless of course it’s raining.

Freddy, 36, California

The degree of isolation [Amy Elkins‘] subjects experience is extreme. Of the prisoners that she has written to over the past several years, most have spent their time in a solitary 6 x 9 foot cell. Letters speak of a life where loss is equaled only by the endless time before them…unless the sentence of death is carried out.

— Bill Sullivan, Artist

Read the rest of the essay in Contact Sheet 167: The Light Work Annual 2012.

Subscribe to Contact Sheet here.

From the Files: A Postcard from Stephen Chalmers

We form long-term relationships with most artists we work with, whether it’s through our residency program, our publications, or our exhibitions. Our artists choose a variety of ways to keep us informed about what they’re doing, including email, Facebook posts, in-person visits, phone calls, and mailed notices for exhibitions and other life events.

One of our favorite update notices of all time came from Stephen Chalmers, who was a resident with us in 2007 and later showed his photoraphs at Light Work in the exhibition titled Unmarked, and was published in Contact Sheet 156. Stephen sent this postcard in 2009 when he was getting ready to move from Portland to Ohio to teach at Youngstown State University, where he still works. A card like this is definitely a great way to update your friends and contacts.