Am I Not a Man and a Brother? Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?

Am I Not a Man and a Brother? Am I not a Woman and a Sister?
October 17 to November 27, 2013
Reception: Thursday, October 17th, 6-8PM

James Harris Gallery is pleased to present a small group photography show of artists from Africa whose works explore the issues of identity, culture, and religion. The artists selected for the exhibition specifically use the camera to document themselves. They have each become the subject and the photographer, the performer and the director. The photographs often become a transmitter of information expressing concerns about race, sex, and class. In additional works the artists use their personal experiences to shed light on the social injustices of historical and contemporary events. The photographs incorporate performative nature in which the artist’s body becomes the narrator, exposing the dark side of social reality and public conscience. The exhibition hopes to provide a deeper insight into humanity by raising awareness of the barriers that exist within the African continent. Artists featured in this exhibition are Adeola Olagunju, Abraham Oghobase, Nomusa Makhubu, Hasan and Husain Essop, and Mohau Modisakeng.

In Nomusa Makhubu’s Self Portrait Series, she has projected images of herself onto historical photographs. The resulting images explore issues of identity and challenge the notions of representation in terms of colonial history. Hasan and Husain Essop investigate ideas of memory in relation to the history and practice of religion in their works. The photographs in the exhibition depict a historically relevant site in Senegal, where the brothers have posed themselves. The photographs raise numerous issues relating to history, heritage, religious identity, and the politics of a place. Mohau Modisakeng’s photographs concern themselves with the issue of violence and the role it continues to play within postcolonial African society. Using costumes and various props, the artist has meticulously crafted images of himself in varying poses to investigate this highly charged narrative topic. Adeola Olagunju performance-based works examines stereotypes in Nigeria. Her photographs highlight high level of socio-religion and political decadence in Africa. Abraham Oghobase black and white photographs explore issues relating to human emotions and identity against specific socio-economic backdrops.

Am I not a Man and a Brother? Am I not a Woman and a Sister? is a historic slogan for the fight for freedom and equal rights among all mankind. The slogan “Am I not a Man and a Brother?” was coined by Josiah Wedgwood the famous potter and abolitionist who manufactured ceramic wares to promote the eradication of slavery.. The American female abolitionist writer Elizabeth Margaret Chandler added “Am I not a Woman and a Sister?” This exhibition and its theme are culturally important to Seattle. The James Harris gallery also sees this exhibition as a way to bring awareness to global issues of race and identity.

Seattle is the home of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation whose charitable giving has focused on the African continent. The African collection is a signature element to the Seattle Art Museum. The museum continues to expand its holdings in this area.

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