“Through the lens of darkness” : black photography reduces joy.
From the rare glimpses of black soldiers seen in the civil war, their presence is only a requirement to remember, if not to celebrate. The documentary “dark through the lens” draws viewers into the world of black photography and will be broadcast on PBS on Monday.
The film takes into consideration the lynching racist stereotypes and terrible lens, and found that the contrast, and show in protest against this kind of behavior and attitude in the early 20th century African americans generate tensions. “A man in a hurry yesterday,” on a huge banner, like the title of the 20th century harlem street.
The subtitle of the film solves all the puzzles – black photographers and one person. Here, African American photographers are at the heart of the story of preserving and recycling long-twisted or hidden stories. NPR recently spoke with film producer Thomas Allen Harris and historian Deborah Willis about the film, which takes 10 years to complete.
Tell us about the movie and what do you want to do?
Through the lens darkness challenges the stereotypes and photographic experiences of African American families. The document was broadcast on PBS on Monday.
Thomas Allen Harris: in the end, the film is a blend of two viewpoints: a narrative history of African American photography evolution – professional photographers and vernacular photographer in production – and found the story in our family album. Against that, I also included the third element, which is the representation of what the images of the people in the big American family are fighting against, facing and being attacked. The image of a market dominated by African americans.
They are mainly used for deprived of the rights of the image – these babies in the image with “Alligator Bait”, naked African American babies, and elder photos, whether it is ignorant, mean – don’t have too much about their content except they can serve whites of humanity.
The movie is basically an image war. This is a memoir. I’m making this movie. So, although I’ve been doing a lot of work, but it was not until the last one and a half years, I realized that I will be fully involved in the film, I was asked to really solve the problem of risk. I as an African American, as a filmmaker, as a subject.
As an African-American artist and subject in 2015, what are the dangers?
Clive Harris: understanding my life is valuable. I am connected to a larger movement and a larger community – the community is valuable but also attacked. At the physical and the representational level, they are all intertwined, and most people don’t believe that.
So African americans are not as good as humans… The black image, the stereotype, has been so proliferating for so long that they’re just beneath the surface, so it’s like a fact of understanding.
We from space is still a long way from slavery, it constitutes the foundation of society, how do we decide who is valuable, who is not who, who is part of the family, who is not who, who is a citizen, who are not citizens.
How does the film fit into the vast amount of work you do to discover, repair and manage black photography and culture?
Deborah Willis: this is the culmination since 1972. I have been studying the history of African American photographers and black images to look for black photographers and images and tell stories that are different from the usual black people.
“I want people to see black activism, the education structure, the civil rights movement and the liberation of our own, and these are the stories that are missing from our history books.”
So it’s really useful to have the opportunity to create this movie, because it’s beginning to recognize the achievements of black photographers as entrepreneurs and artists, as well as documentaries and photographers. So I wanted to explore the different ways in which African American art is viewed as political and aesthetic.
This is the culmination of many years – it’s really hard to actually edit and look for photographers who can represent categories (such as early portraits, art and activism). So this is a chance to explore and make a movie – although there are many people who have not yet involved – but they created a photography in the editing room floor as the focal point of social tools, household objects, and art.
This film USES the ego or guiding principle of family album as the framework of the film. How successful are the devices in the movie?
Willis: I think it’s really successful, because it means that a family actually builds and creates its own identity outside of what happened in the past. So this is a way of creating a journal, and it’s also the act of spirituality and celebration. This is part of the daily story of the black family.
One of the main characters in the film is the [artist] Carrie Mae Weems, who splits the boundaries with family photos, art objects, rights works and civil rights. So, the family is a central story, but it also shows the family when they are about to vote, they will change their families, by family structure and the growth of children and education. You can see the work of Carrie Mae Weems in the film.
The film solves the problem of invisibility – in the country, blacks are often overlooked, ignored, and even excluded from the family album. The black subjects here are considered worthy of record. The image of the black man is defended by the film and the photographers, and is an effective part of the human race. In addition, you include black LGBT themes in movies. Tell me about your decision to include your great aunt Eunice and uncle Thomas, and the gay man you mentioned in the movie is called sugar.
Clive Harris: that is not very difficult. I went out and I did a lot of work on LGBT. And my brother’s origins (artist Lyle ashton Harris), we are part of our family and our narrative. I think blacks are hidden in American family albums, hidden in national family albums as family/citizen. But those who hide in our family album – who hides in our family album are often LGBT people. And among the LGBT people, those who tend to be the most insidious, the most exposed, the gay men — they tend to be more subtle than the whores. Moreover, the space for femininity may contain more of this expression. It’s not manly, it’s very limited.
Therefore, the idea of this family album is a very flexible theme and strategy, which can cover a lot of space.
What do you want the audience to take away from the movie? There are many reasons to see it, right?
Willis: pure joy. I hope people can see a more complicated life when they understand black America. I want people to see black people actively participating in sports, the education structure, the civil rights movement and liberation. These are the missing stories in our history books. I missed them when I was in primary school. I missed some stories – why the education system missed some of the narrative. There are many stories I like to see: the American story, the American story, when we think about African American culture, that’s the broader American story.
What do you think, why did your father’s family avoid filming themselves?
Director Thomas Allen Harris says the darkness of the lens is the narrative history of the evolution of African-American photography.
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Clive Harris: I think it has something to do with BBB 0 and self-esteem. They are immigrants. In American culture and African American culture, some of them have been tarnished by black skin and our own African side, and played down that.
You may be the most beautiful person, because society equates black skin with not ideal, so of course, you don’t have that sense of value and beauty. This is the amazing thing that Deborah Willis is talking about when it comes to the connection between beauty and power between women and men. Back to the black art movement, they are trying to reinvent the narrative. Each generation must be consistent with the standards they cannot accept as national or cultural standards, and they must find other standards to see their inner strength, strength and beauty. Otherwise you will be crushed.
Is there a time when large family albums in the United States will join this huge black catalogue? Or do they always have parallel but separate tracks?
Willis: I think there’s going to be a period of confusion, and I really believe it. I see beauty in the images created, and I think that all of us, all of us, as human beings and responsible people, want to have other people’s way of life in the family. As an individual image, rather than being classified as one. I think that’s what many of us want. I believe photography has the opportunity to create this experience. I believe it will happen.