Pratt Photography Gallery
Brooklyn, NY September 20th - October 8th 2021
Taking, combines works from Jade Rodgers’ CRWN and Sydney Ellison’s Here nor There to facilitate a conversation about the complex relationship between beauty and politics. The title references the power exchange that results from the action of ‘taking photographs’ and the adjective taking that refers to something that is alluring or captivating which relates to the ways both artists use beauty in their work. While beauty has historically been a tool for oppression, which has reinforced beliefs such as racism, sexism, ableism and more, these works use beauty as an entry point to discussing the ways these phenomenon have shaped American society and as an alternative to violent imagery that often dominates these conversations.
Here nor There uses collected imagery alongside original photographs to articulate the artist’s complex relationship with heritage and ethnicity as it relates to growing up as an Arab-American in a military family post 9-11. The pieces selected for this exhibition specifically use images from cosmetics advertisements to introduce concepts of fetishization, passivity, and spectacle while connecting back to European beauty standards that have been spread through colonialism and continue to be enforced through contemporary imperialism.
CRWN explores Black hair as a site of affirmation, care, and refuge from daily traumas while also at times potentially being a site of more trauma. The project exists as a visual protest to combat the surge of imagery online of Black death and suffering during the summer of 2020. In order to shift the narrative onto radical Black Joy as resistance, CRWN highlights Black hair care practices that have been used for generations. Collectively these images show the ways in which hair connects the Black diaspora generationally. The familiar act of doing one another's hair creates a space of relief which most Black people are not afforded in their daily lives. These shared experiences are a testament to the fact that historically our hair was not simply for beauty purposes. Today we carry on the traditions of braiding and hair care practices that are at the heart of our ancestors' stories of survival. This is personified through the contemporary Black experience, recognizing that the Black body more than any other has been policed and politicized at every turn.