Mariah Harris, Untitled, 2020, pigment print. Photo: © Mariah Harris. Courtesy of the artist


Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR - To Nov 13

by Joseph Gallivan

The unrest of 2020 is still top of mind in Portland: a 100-day streak of protests that began with the murder of George Floyd but metastasized when federal troops were sent to defend the courthouse and assist local police against protesters. Historic events such as this are often reduced to a single image – a naked woman in a yoga pose or a man brandishing a pistol – but Perspectives offers dozens of powerful images to complicate the picture. The crowds in 2020 were full of cameras, but the Portland Art Museum’s Julia Dolan has selected the work of six BIPOC photographers who were on the streets in the midst of the action.

Mariah Harris joined the protests over 75 times, as an activist and a photographer. She normally shoots portraits and decided to focus on the positive passion as well as the outrage she saw in the faces around her. Her shots of an empty wheelchair and a man taking a knee when others prostrated themselves in the Burnside Bridge Die-in show the variety in the protest.

Joseph Blake’s drone shots, particularly of that teeming bridge crowd and of Pioneer Courthouse Square, are both illuminating and chilling. Daveed Jacobo was on the tense front lines, capturing the masked faces of police and protesters alike, while Byron Merritt shot black-and-white Leica portraits of people drawn to the George Floyd mural at the Apple store. Linneas Boland-Godbey’s project Masks of Color focused on normal people surviving COVID-19 loneliness, and adman Emery Barnes made slick crowd shots that depict the energy in high resolution, capturing details for posterity.

As history rolls along and goes into rewrites, this show is a must-see – if you were here in 2020, and more especially if you were not.

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