We recently got a chance to sit down and talk to him about the making of his book.
Hi Chris, welcome back to Lomography Magazine! Can you fill us in on what you've been up to since your last feature?
Hey Lomography. It’s a pleasure to be back. So far, I’m working on shooting more Super 8. It has been a fun experience. I’m looking forward to learning how to hand process the Super 8 film next.
Can you tell us a bit about the images that are being presented in Black Lives Matter?
The images being presented in Black Lives Matter are my protest. As the COVID-19 pandemic rendered the world powerless; like many, I wanted to focus on what I could control– my participation in the world around me. It is important to display and preserve narratives that are snubbed by mainstream attention. The work I documented is deeply personal to me as it reflects a profound historical moment in which I was able to take part.
What made you decide on the featured texts in the book?
I asked the publisher of the book to recommend the featured texts. I wanted to make sure the words contextualize the significance of what I captured in the Black Lives Matter photographs. The publisher and I felt writers Carl E. Hazlewood and Halima Taha were perfect for the book.
What does it mean to you to be able to express such deeply personal and impactful work to the public?
For me, it means the ability for cultural circulation. Both within and outside established institutions and across geographical borders. I wanted to develop my own particular approach to both fine art and documentary photography. This requires combining the diverse forms such as reportage, documentary, art, and political activism that the medium of photography offers.
Do you have a favorite image in the book?
One of my favorite images in the book is "Streamed." The story behind the image is that it was taken during the major highlight of the marches of June 2020. The activist’s sign is a reference to "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," by Gil Scott-Heron's 1970s poem. When we see "the revolution will be streamed", we are fortunate to have the ability to share information that's in the palm of our hands today. In contrast, Gil Scott-Heron argues that real change can only come with live active participation. Being present is the only way individuals can create tangible change in society, for the betterment of Black lives. It’s an internal change of mind and attitude; something that can only come from a moment of insight.
Do you think there's a different feeling to the way the photos are presented in the book versus being presented in an exhibition space?
Yes. When you flip pages from the book to view the images you’re using a sense of touch. The book format allows viewers to visually digest the book itself as another form of artwork that holds full content of what the artist created. Photos presented in an exhibition space focus more on sight. You’re viewing an organized presentation and display of a selection of items part of an artist’s series. Depending on the type of exhibition visitor you are, each person has a set time willing to take in the work in an exhibition space.
How does it feel knowing that such an extensive collection of work that you've done is now being archived in book format?
I feel fulfilled. Books are the surviving and tangible evidence of our past history. They disclose who we were, what we did, and why.
Where do you see yourself going from here in terms of your photography?
I see myself continuing to find a reason to motivate human action. Every picture I take asks the questions: “Who am I? What is my role here on this earth? What am I trying to show?" It is my way of seeing the world in front of me. I plan to work on themes such as Gentrification, Covid-19, Subways, and Relationships.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I would like to share my current exhibition displaying some images from the Black Lives Matter Monograph. If you’re in New York, you can read more about it in the recent press
release of my current exhibition:
Chris' current exhibition of select works from Black Lives Matter is being shown at Wilmer Jennings Gallery in New York City's East Village from Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm, or by appointment from September 15th through October 15th. A copy of his book can be purchased here.