Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

Nov 21 - Nov 26, 2014

(Thomas Allen Harris, United States, 2014, DCP, 92 min)

Pre-screening introductions:

Nov 21: Michelle Dunn Marsh, Executive Director, Photographic Center Northwest

Nov 22: Zorn B. Taylor, Photographer

Photographic Center Northwest will have a library reference shelf dedicated to photographers in Through A Lens Darkly through November 30th, stop in at 12th and Marion

Part of a multimedia project that traces the history of African-American photography, Thomas Allen Harris’s Through a Lens Darkly explores how African American communities have used the medium of photography to construct political, aesthetic, and cultural representations of themselves and their world. 

From the early days of photography (before the brutal violence of slavery had ended), to contemporary renowned photographers like Carrie Mae Weems, this is a striking alternate history that subverts conventional narratives about race and art. Artists include, among others: Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon, Lyle Ashton Harris, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco, Anthony Barboza, Clarissa Sligh, and Deborah Willis. The fantastic score is composed by Vernon Reid.

"The stunning images of black families offer a glimpse into a world largely ignored by white America" —The Stranger

"Through A Lens Darkly, a documentary about the history of black people in photography, couldn’t have arrived at a more dire or opportune moment than in the wake of the events in Ferguson. . .there is passion here that rings true." —The Dissolve

"Mr. Harris’s film is a family memoir, a tribute to unsung artists and a lyrical, at times, heartbroken, meditation on imagery and identity. The film is always absorbing to watch, but only once it’s over do you begin to grasp the extent of its ambitions, and just how much it has done within a packed, compact hour and half… Mr. Harris marshals an impressive collection of scholars, artists and photojournalists to help us understand what we see… He is a wise and passionate guide to an inexhaustibly fascinating subject." 
—The New York Times

“An exhilarating approach to the history of representation. Presents a plethora of material triggering a re-evaluation of the visual history of the United States, as well as what we thought we understood about race, gender and sexuality. The connections (the filmmaker) draws are rigorous, intellectually challenging, and astonishingly moving.”
—Festival Reports


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