Tawny Chatmon @Fotografiska

Black Beauty in 24-karat gold leaf

Inheritance, by Tawny Chatmon (American, b. 1979), invites the viewer to look beyond the decorated and nuanced portraits to examine issues of race and the historical positioning of African American portraiture in the absence of subjugation of the “black body” in Western art. ​

Chatmon, a mother of three black children, draws from her life experiences and belief that children inherit our memories, beliefs, traditions, and the world that we leave behind. Through her photographs, she conveys a message to her children, and to all black children, that they are precious, valued, and loved.

While the camera is her primary tool of communication, Chatmon takes a multi-layered approach in producing her photographs—her process does not subscribe to conventional photography. The photographs are often manipulated and hand-embellished with acrylic paint and 24-karat gold leaf, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s (1862-1918) “Golden Phase.” The use of gold and ornamentation in Klimt’s work evokes feelings of grace, magnificence, and beauty within Chatmon and has remained in the artist’s consciousness. These are the emotions Chatmon seeks to convey to those viewing her photographs. Her portraits are staged vignettes with models, who at times are her own children wearing elegant garments. Chatmon experiments with various art practices and does not restrict herself to follow any set of rules, allowing her to create instinctually and fluidly. The result is a beautiful and powerful iconography that speaks to “the disparities that continue to affect black people around the world.” [source]

Fotografiska, New York

February 22nd, 2020

Moonlight Sonata

Let me come with you. What a moon there is tonight!
The moon is kind – it won’t show
that my hair turned white. The moon
will turn my hair to gold again. You wouldn’t understand.
Let me come with you.

When there’s a moon the shadows in the house grow larger,
invisible hands draw the curtains,
a ghostly finger writes forgotten words in the dust
on the piano – I don’t want to hear them. Hush.

Verses long forgotten come to mind. From the poem by Yannis Ritsos (1909-1990), Η σονάτα του σεληνόφωτος / Moonlight sonata.

As always in poetry, nuance is lost in translation. But it is this or none at all.

October 16th, 2016

Three Jerks and A Lazy Lady

A little game I like to play in big supermarkets or delis – look for products with funny names and make up silly stories like this:

Miranda washed in Absinthe, her perfume subdued by the exquisite fragrance of a 300 day Gorgonzola, a perfume so intoxicating, so maddening, it was enough to turn the Three Jerks of the House of Croxetti against their once beloved cousins of the House of Corzetti. The epic fight that followed brought only grief; it was left upon poor little Jersey Girl to comfort the grieving Lazy Lady of Vermont, offspring of a secret union between the two Houses. To aid her in this unpleasant and troublesome task, she summoned the Honorable Sweet Lady Apple, who promptly came to the rescue making a hasty – but grand – entrance surrounded by a full basketload of Red Globe Grapes.

The cheese section in Eataly is rife with such potential, but I usually end up leaving with some good old trusted Compté or Swiss Gruyère. And I like my Absinthe with a sugar block on the side please, no cheese.

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Eataly, across from the Flatiron Building

September 28th, 2016