Contemporary Photography and Racialization
By Daniel C. Blight
Excerpt of Book Review by Paul Halliday
“On reading The Image of Whiteness: Contemporary Photography and Racialization, edited by Daniel C. Blight, one is immediately struck by the complexities around some of the contemporary uncertainties associated with the inexorable rise of alt-right identity politics and the sociological space of an imagined future. This book invites us to reconsider the normalcy of the now, set against a future that may materialise through the Baldwin-esque fire of engaged memory, truth-making, agency and utopianism. Many of the writers are concerned with the historical optics of concealment and revelation, and this has particular resonances for those artists and cultural thinkers working in the difficult and shape-shifting area of ‘race studies’.
The book is effectively a series of conversations about the crisis of being; of making sense of being, and of being made sense of. On the cover, we see a photograph of what appears to be a white middle-class family surrounded by the accoutrements of a consistent, effortlessly maintained comfort. In this group portrait, there are no apparent signs of austerity impacting on the sitters as we so often see within the lives of families living at the edge; the so-called ‘left behind’. The book starts with an engaging and insightful introductory essay by Blight outlining some of the core thematic and theoretical concerns of a wide range of interdisciplinary writers and cultural commentators approaching ‘race’ from a variety of critical perspectives.”
Features work by:
I-Broomberg & Chanarin, Shirley 1, from the series How to Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light, 2012. Courtesy the artists and Lisson Gallery, London and New York.
II-Nate Lewis, Focused Heads, from the series Social Patterns, 2017. Courtesy the artist.
III-Ken Gonzales-Day, East First Street #2 (St. James Park), from the series Erased Lynchings, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.
IV-Nancy Burson, What If He Were: Asian, 2018. Courtesy the artist.
V-Nancy Burson, What If He Were: Black, 2018. Courtesy the artist.
VI-John Lucas & Claudia Rankine, Stamped, 2018. Courtesy the artists.
VII-Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror Study (2140278), 2018. Courtesy the artist and team (gallery, inc.), New York; DOCUMENT, Chicago; and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles.
VIII-Michelle Dizon & Viet Le, White Gaze (book spread), 2018. Courtesy the artists and Sming Sming Books.
IX-David Birkin, Detail (Death Row Gate), from the series Midnight Blue, 2018. Courtesy the artist.
X-Richard Misrach, Wall, east of Nogales, Arizona, from the series Border Cantos, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles.
XI-Libita Clayton, Untitled, from the series Quantum Ghost, 2019. Courtesy the artist.
XII-Libita Clayton, Untitled, from the series Quantum Ghost, 2019. Courtesy the artist.
XIII-Sutupa Biswas, Birdsong, 2004. Production still. 16mm lm transferred onto 2 DVDs. Dual-screen projection. Colour. No sound. Duration: 7’7”. Dimensions: variable. Commissioned by Iniva (London, UK) in collaboration with FVU (London, UK). Realised with the generous support of the AHRC (UK) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (UAL). Courtesy the artist.
To read full review and see select images at 1000 Words