THE BLACK IMAGE CORPORATION by Theaster Gates
Cardboard box, 32 pp + 183 cards + 36 vellums; 366 ill.
The project explores the fundamental legacy of Johnson Publishing Company archives and focuses on the works of two photographers: Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton.
Ebony and Jet magazines, which were published from 1945 onwards, were aimed at African- American audiences, reflecting the mid-century aesthetic in the US at the time but with a lens specifically focused on black life.
Against the flow of negative or stereotypical depictions of black women that had preceded it, says Gates: “Ebony committed itself to celebrating black women. This is before black women were on the covers of Vogue, so 30 or 40 years before the mainstream world was ready to see a black image in the most positive sense, there was already this corporation that had the ideology and financial muscle to celebrate black women”.