African American Arts, Culture & Lifestyle



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Staff PickThe Making of An Argument

September 27, 2017 - December 17, 2017

| Free
image-making of an argument

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Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument pulls together more than eighty items from the Gordon Parks Foundation archives to offer a comprehensive investigation into the African American photographer’s first Life magazine photo-essay, “Harlem Gang Leader” (1948). Through vintage gelatin silver prints, contact sheets, original issues of Life, and a significant selection of unpublished photos from the series, the exhibition examines unspoken conflicts between photographer, editor, subject, and truth.

The series of photographs documenting life among the neighborhood’s gang members materialized through Parks’s established trust with seventeen-year-old Leonard “Red” Jackson, a Harlem native and leader of one of the community’s multiple gangs. The body of work that Parks produced offers a complex assessment of Jackson’s life and his role in the communal and familial networks of Harlem. Dynamic shots of groups of boys fighting in the streets stand in stark contrast to affectionate portraits of Jackson doing domestic work in his family’s apartment. The multidimensionality of this collection softens the portrayal of the young gang leader, wrestling with common stereotypes of black inner-city youth.


September 27, 2017
December 17, 2017
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UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
(510) 642-0808
2155 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94720 United States