Fondazione Prada: The Black Image Corporation

05.10.2018 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

For their latest venture , Fondazione Prada presents a collaborative effort of American publishing house Johnson Publishing Company and installation artist Theaster Gates in their latest exhibition titled “The Black Image Corporation”.

This project which is on display at the foundation’s Osservatorio venue in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan explores the historic visual evolution of the contemporary African American identity. The exhibition includes the archives of the Johnson Publishing Company which feature more than 4 million images that have been captured throughout decades by photographers Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton. The publishing house was founded by John Johnson in 1942 and was also the mother of the two landmark publications Ebony and Jet magazines, which both celebrated black culture.

With the work of the publishing house’s two photographers, Theaster Gates has curated an exhibition which honours the culture in an a way which speaks to beauty and black female power, “for this show I hope to tease out the creation of female iconic moments created by Sleet and Sutton and also offer small forays into the lives of everyday people through never-before-seen images of the Johnson Collection. Today it seems to me a good times 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.”

At the exhibition, while most frames contain developed images, some will show the reverse of photographs which will include the date, time and photographer. The audience is invited to freely interact and explore with these images which will be kept in various cabinets of the exhibition. On the first level of the Osservatorio, the artist has also installed original furnishing and interior design elements mimicking the publishing house’s downtown Chicago offices. Within this area, spectators will be allowed to browse and read copies of Ebony and Jet magazines while viewing Avenue In Full Bloom (2018) , which is a short film shot by gates documenting the actual office space in Chicago.  The exhibition is on display from September 20, 2018 to January 14, 2019.

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