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Street Portraits
Dawoud Bey

Street Portraits, Dawoud Bey

Street Portraits, Dawoud BeyStreet Portraits
Dawoud Bey

Essay by Greg Tate.


120 pages
240 x 285 mm
ISBN 9781913620103


From 1988 to 1991 Dawoud Bey made a series of portraits of African Americans in the streets of various American cities. Using a large format tripod-mounted camera and a unique positive/negative Polaroid film that created both an instant print and a reusable negative, he asked a cross-section of the populations of these communities to pose for him, creating a space of self-presentation and performance in the streets of the urban environment. As part of every encounter, Bey gave each person a small black-and-white Polaroid print for themselves as a way of reciprocating and returning something to the people who had allowed him to make their portrait. Defying racial stereotypes, the resulting portraits reveal the Black subjects in all of their psychologically rich complexity, presenting themselves openly and intimately to the camera, the viewer, and the world.

About the Artist
Dawoud Bey (b. 1953, New York City) began his career as a photographer in 1975 with a series of photographs, “Harlem, USA,” that were later exhibited in his first one-person exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. He has since had exhibitions worldwide, at institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Barbican Centre in London, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others.  His photographs are in numerous collections in this country and abroad. The Walker Art Center organized a mid-career survey of his work, “Dawoud Bey: Portraits 1975-1995,” that travelled throughout the United States and Europe.  A major publication of the same title was also published in conjunction with that exhibition. Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey, was published by Aperture in 2007. Aperture also travelled that exhibition to various museums around the country through 2011. Harlem, USA was published by Yale University Press in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2012, where the work was exhibited in its entirety for the first time since it was shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. Bey’s critical writings on photography and contemporary art have appeared in numerous publications and exhibition catalogues.

About the Publisher
MACK is an independent art and photography publishing house based in London. Mack works with established and emerging artists, writers and curators, and cultural institutions, releasing between 20-25 books per year. The publisher was founded in 2010 in London by Michael Mack.