The New Black Vanguard brings visual activism to Bunjil Place

Breaking down long-established boundaries, The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion exhibition is set to arrive at Bunjil Place Gallery from 21 March7 June as part of the PHOTO 2020 International Festival of Photography. Travelling  from New York’s Aperture Foundation and curated by Antwaun Sargent, the exhibition presents fifteen artists whose vibrant portraits and conceptual images challenge the idea that blackness is homogenous, with works serving as a form of visual activism.

Reinfusing the contemporary visual vocabulary around beauty and the body with new vitality and substance, works include those that have been widely consumed in traditional lifestyle magazines, ad campaigns, and museums, as well as on their individual social-media channels.

The exhibition will feature photographs by Campbell Addy, Arielle Bobb-Willis, Micaiah Carter, Awol Erizku, Nadine Ijewere, Quil Lemons, Namsa Leuba, Renell Medrano, Tyler Mitchell, Jamal Nxedlana, Daniel Obasi, Ruth Ossai, Adrienne Raquel, Dana Scruggs, and Stephen Tayo. Opening up conversations around the roles of the black body and black lives as subject matter; the images collectively celebrate black creativity and the cross-pollination between art, fashion, and culture in constructing an image.

It’s a perspective often seen from this loose movement of emerging talent, who are creating photography in vastly different contexts—New York and Johannesburg, Lagos and London. The results—often made in collaboration with black stylists and fashion designers—present new perspectives on the medium of photography and the notions of race and beauty, gender and power.

As part of PHOTO 2020,  London based artist Luke Willis Thompson who tackles traumatic histories of class, racial and social inequality, institutional violence, colonialism and forced migration, will present autoportrait 2017 (as pictured left) from 23 April to 10 May.

On display will be a 35mm silent moving portrait of Diamond Reynolds, a young woman widely known for her Facebook livestream of the moments following the fatal shooting of her boyfriend Philando Castile by a police officer during a routine traffic stop in Minnesota. Throughout the highly emotional footage, Reynolds narrates the course of events that lead up to and followed the point-blank shooting. Thompson invited Reynolds to work with him to produce a response that could act as a ‘sister image’ to her broadcast. Produced during Thompson’s Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency, London in 2017 and exhibited at the Tate Britain as part of the Turner Prize 2018, the work continues his preoccupation with raising questions around personal, artistic and political agency.

*The New Black Vanguard is made possible, in part, by Airbnb Magazine.

Image credit:
Campbell Addy, Akech Adut 2019