Bilbao International Art&Fashion

October 01, 2018

The Black Image Corporation, new exhibition from the Prada Foundation

The exhibition explores the asthetics of the African American women of the 40s and 50s

The Prada Foundation premiered on September 20, on the occasion of Milan Fashion Week, its new exhibition, "The Black Image Corporation." The exhibition explores the legacy of the publishing house Johnson Publishing Company, a company that sponsored the US publications, Ebony and Jet, reference headers of the African-American female community. The exhibition aims to investigate the influence that these magazines had on the creation of the aesthetics of the black population in the US, especially during the 40s and 50s, and how developed the alongside the civil rights movements.

The images on display show an aesthetic and a visual lexicon many times forgotten, in which celebrities from the world of music, film, sports or politics converge with shots of normal women and their everyday lives. The exhibition, conceived by Theaster Gates, includes the work of two referent photographers of the time, Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton. Gates has created an interactive exhibition, in which visitors can explore the extensive archive of Johnson Publishing Company, choosing the photos they want and making them visible to other visitors. In addition, the first floor recreates the offices of the publishing house in Chicago, known as "Building Ebony / Jet."

"The archives speak about beauty and black female power. Today it seems to me a good time to dig into the visual lexicon of the American book and show images that are rarely seen outside of my community. I wanted to celebrate women of all kinds and especially black women", explained Gates. 

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