As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic
Texas Isaiah, My Name Is My Name I, 2016 From As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic (Aperture, 2021). © Texas Isaiah.

As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic

The Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver, BC - To May 14

by Michael Turner

Organized by the Aperture Foundation and curated by The Polygon’s Elliott Ramsey, As We Rise features over 100 photographs from African diasporic culture on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Drawn from the Wedge Collection, Canada's largest privately owned collection committed to the promotion of Black artists, these photographs first appeared in Aperture’s 2021 book of the same title, published under the supervision of Wedge Collection founder Dr. Kenneth Montague.

“The Wedge Collection brings together rare images, iconic photographs, and new works that reach across continents and over decades,” writes Ramsey. “From the 1930s’ Harlem Renaissance, through post-colonial Bamako, to contemporary Toronto, As We Rise celebrates the polyphony of Black life – and the nuanced approaches of Black photographers in representing these scenes of love, leisure, and resistance.”  The title of the book and the exhibition is derived from a saying of Montague’s father. “Lifting as we rise” speaks to the importance of investing the fruits of one’s individual success into the larger community.

As We Rise offers a chance to see Black bodies pictured by Black photographers, a communion made more significant given the Wedge Collection’s geographical range. A number of works, such as Dawit L. Petros’ Hadenbes (2005) and Zun Lee’s Jebron Felder and his son Jae’shaun at home, Harlem, New York (2011), feature families in relaxed, if not trusting, poses. More formally, Jamel Shabazz’s Best Friends, Brooklyn, New York (1981) presents two women dressed alike but who do not look alike, posing symmetrically inside a subway car, while in Elliott Jerome Brown Jr.’s Devin in Red Socks (2016), a hotel room is the stage for a work of performative transformation.

Presented as part of Capture Photography Festival;

Share this: