In his impressive and artistically versatile documentary, Thomas Allen Harris chronicles the history of photography from an Afro-American perspective. With the aid of countless archive photographs he makes apparent how, from the beginnings of photography to the present day, the black community used the camera as a tool for social change. If photography’s story has until now largely been told through the work of white photographers, Harris enables Afro-American photographers, collectors and historians to have their say and analyse and re-read their history in terms of representations of ‘blackness’ by others as opposed to self-representation. Making use of photographic arrangements, some of which are collage-like and others animated, the film introduces us to photographers of art-historical importance like Roy De Carvava and Deborah Willis who have influenced subsequent artists and inspired them with their powerful depiction of everyday life. As he did in his film E minha cara which screened at the Berlinale in 2002, Harris once again makes use of personal material depicting his own family in order to reflect upon the emergence of a sense of photographic identity among African Americans in the USA.
by Thomas Allen Harris
with Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Hank Willis Thomas, Lyle Ashton Harris, Glenn Ligon