Just Pictures – Group Show

Barrett Barrera Projects, St. Louis, United States
10 Sep 2020 - 21 Nov 2020

Joshua Kissi, When Kids Play, 2019.

Joshua Kissi, When Kids Play, 2019.

Barrett Barrera Projects announces Just Pictures, a new exhibition taking place September 10 to November 21, 2020 at projects+gallery.

The group show—curated by critic and author of the 2019 book The New Black Vanguard, Antwaun Sargent—explores a new forefront of genre- bending photographers who work frenetically between the spaces of fine art, fashion photography, and the history of the medium to construct a contemporary experience of self-presentation and a new perspective on documentation in photography: one in which distinctions are blurred and expression is fluid.

Featured artists include: Arielle Bobb-Willis, Yagazie Emezi, Joshua Kissi, Mous Lamrabat, Renell Medrano, Ruth Ossai, Rafael Pavarotti, Justin Solomon and Joshua Woods.

On conceiving of this exhibition, Sargent writes, “I am particularly interested in bringing together young image makers who are working between the commercial and conceptual by creating worlds entirely their own; photographers who set their gazes on rethinking the possibility of photography by embracing its boundary blurring potential which allows the images to address desire, beauty and being.The resulting work has an aesthetic all its own and a power that is drawn from the way that the images operate in many different contexts, photographically and culturally.”

In vibrant portraits of friends, family, and community members, rooted in the stylish and playful post- independence African studio portraiture of Malick Sidibe and the contemporary mise-en-scène imagery of Mickalene Thomas, Nigerian born photographer Ruth Ossai transcends the opacity of photography, using fashion as a way to stage pictures that create narratives that express and celebrate her personal history and the larger cultural identity of her subjects. Bright color and avant-garde fashion permeate the work of Arielle Bobb-Willis, who draws on the figurative abstractions of 20th century modernist painters such as Jacob Lawerance and Milton Avery to produce surreal compositions, spirited in their existentialism. Moving deftly between the streets of her childhood in the Bronx and her familial homeland, the Dominican Republic, Renell Medrano’s images recast street and documentary photography with resolute glamour. Frequently, Medrano focuses her lens on young female subjects, finding traces of herself in their experiences, as she documents a candid depth of emotion and actuality typically absent from pop culture portraiture.

“Central to these images is the collaborative complicity of the image maker and their subjects but also the seemingly disparate histories of photography, from landscape and vernacular to portraiture and fashion, that are pulled together in the making of each image that is widely circulated in museums and magazines, on social media and the walls of domestic space. The way these images move rapidly between contexts, garnering new and often contradictory meanings, that allow them to simultaneously operate as racial representations while also being discrete product shots, documentations of family and glossies of the latest fashion trends. For this generation of emerging imagemakers, the photographer’s eye is illimitable: a picture is just a picture,” writes Sargent.


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