Photographs by 35 Los Angeles-based artists challenge ideals of beauty, representation, cultural capital, and objectivity.
The artists in this exhibition, primarily people of color, have radically transformed photography to express their own aesthetics, identities, and narratives.
Their work is foundational for an emerging generation of artists participating in the Getty Unshuttered program, which engages teens to seek photography as a platform to amplify social topics that resonate in their own lives. Guest curated by jill moniz.
Todd Gray‘s early work casting Muhammad Ali as a larger than life social justice warrior; Harry Gamboa, Jr.‘s cheeky and utterly original unconventional and exuberant neighborhood self-portrait; Andrea Chung‘s poetic and materially rich meditation on the oceanic subconscious and the plural significances of trans-Atlantic trade in American history; April Banks‘s psychologically charged constructions of identity in race and gender; Texas Isaiah’s assertive yet gentle recentering of the body in this conversation; and Toyo Miyatake‘s image from Manzanar showing the resilience of the human spirit among the ruins of a violently vindictive and failed social policy – these are just some of the most impactful works included.
The show focuses on historical and contemporary pieces in which the experiences of people of color are explored, depicted and taken on their own terms while also set against the backdrops of racism, the struggle for social justice, and the embodied rights of self-determination and fully realized potential. Much of this work was created as this city was being reconfigured and constructed by forces beyond the control of the local communities, in media narratives of riots and amid nefarious practices in urban planning and real estate as well institutionalized police violence that were – and still are – actively harming and excluding those communities.
As this show movingly amplifies, while at the present inflection point in public consciousness that is showing some promising signs of real change, this is a history that proves the Faulkner quote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It also demonstrates the power of the medium of photography to document and reimagine lived experiences in a way that prompts critical thinking and engenders personal empowerment. Experiencing the multilayered impact of this exhibition at this time and in this place is its own kind of education.
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Date: May 25–October 10
Sources: getty.edu & laweekly.com