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The Self in Black and White is a fascinating and original study of the ways in which notions about race and the self were formed, perpetuated, and contested in American photography during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, with an emphasis on images of the civil rights movement and the War on Poverty. Author Erina Duganne opens with a discussion of the Kamoinge Workshop, an African American photographers’ collective from the 1960s. She goes on to discuss the 1965 government-sponsored photography exhibition “Profile of Poverty” which sought to stir up emotional support for the War on Poverty via “documentary” images of poverty and race. She analyzes the complex interconnections of race and artistic subjectivity through a comparison of the careers of Bruce Davidson, who was often praised for the artistic merit of his civil rights images, and Roy DeCarava, who was singled out for the “authenticity” of his Harlem photographs. The Self in Black and White is a compelling interdisciplinary consideration of the eye behind the camera and the formative power it wields.
Introduction: The Self in Black and White
Beyond the “Negro Point of View”: The Kamoinge Workshop’s “Harlem” Portfolio
Bruce Davidson’s “American Negro” Photographs in Context
Getting Down to the Feeling: Bruce Davidson, Roy DeCarava, and the Civil Rights Movement
Roy DeCarava, Harlem, and the Psychic Self
Epilogue: Dawoud Bey and the Act of Reciprocity