This series is based on the book of lynching postcards entitled Without Sanctuary; Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America. What shocked me when I first saw the book were the confident looks on the faces of the lynch mob staring back at me; the threat seemed implicit.
But what disturbed me most was the sense that I also became a witness. In the act of just looking, I, like the other participants in the inhuman act that had occurred, also became accomplice to the crime.
Re-editing the photographs, separating the lynched from the lynch mob, is my act of transforming them, to make them neither objects of celebration nor condemnation, to make the viewer neither victim nor participant. Manually reproducing these photographs has been my way of taking possession of these anonymous objects of terror, defusing the potential threat, dismantling the mechanism of terror, and rendering them more human.
For one month, I offered free portraits at Matteawan Gallery in Beacon, New York. Visitors were invited to sit, enjoy a cup of soup and record a conversation about the topic of the day. 109 portraits of Beacon residents (including Beacon’s own Mayor!) hung in the gallery until the end of the month when participants could pick them up. The drawings and several audio recordings were compiled on this blog.
N*gatives aims to create type of alternative film history which narrows down films (American and international) in which race plays an outsized role. The series of drawings are based on the moment in which the actor utters the n-word at a crucial moment in the plot.