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Theaster Gates: The Black Image Corporation

Where: Gropius Bau, Berlin

Pictures Allowed: Yes

Kid Friendly: Yes

Open: Wednesday – Monday 10.00 -19.00

Price: €15/10

During the 1940s and 1950s Johnson Publishing played an instrumental role in defining Black America with publications such as Ebony and Jet. Using a catalogue of images and resources from the Johnson Publishing archives, Theaster Gates conceived "The Black Image Corporation".

Jet was once coined as “the negro bible”, yet neither Jet or Ebony received the international attention and praise they deserved. This exhibition highlights a necessary revision of pop culture history and documents some of the earliest examples of black fashion photography.

Central to the exhibition are the works of photographers Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton who created timeless editorial images for the publishing house. Many of the prints and photographs display images of Black women, actresses and models. The participatory exhibition provides the audience with an opportunity to freely explore the visual archives, choose and compile their own selection of photographs on the cabinets, and leave this behind for the next visitor to encounter.

Included in the exhibition is a short video shot by Gates, “Michigan Avenue In Full Bloom”, which documents the architectural spaces of the Johnson Publishing House.

The Black Image Corporation explores the fundamental legacy of the Johnson Publishing Company archives - which within its time has published more than four million images contributing to a multitude of conversations of black beauty, moulding the aesthetic of African American identity and personifying Black female power.

Words: Maggie Ibiam

Isaac Sutton, Moneta Sleet Jr., Johnson Publishing Company

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