Dawoud Bey, In the Factory



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Check out Dawoud Bey's Blog. (Excerpt.) Born in New York in the midst of the civil rights movement, I came of age as an artist at a moment when various local and national power structures began to respond to the issue of institutional accessibility by creating such places as the Studio Museum in Harlem and regional funding entities such as the Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS) artists fellowships as a way of making art and cultural production more broadly accessible, available, and less exclusive.

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Dawoud Bey: Class Pictures (Hardcover)
For the past 15 years, Dawoud Bey has been making striking, large-scale color portraits of students at high schools across the United States. Depicting teenagers from a wide economic, social and ethnic spectrum--and intensely attentive to their poses and gestures--he has created a highly diverse group portrait of a generation that intentionally challenges teenage stereotypes.Bey spends two to three weeks in each school, taking formal portraits of individual students, each made in a classroom during one 45-minute period.

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Sharmaine, Vincente, Joseph, Andre, and Charlie, 1993
Dawoud Bey’s interest in photography was sparked when, at age 15, he attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Harlem On My Mind, which included the work of such photographers as James VanDerZee. The experience became part of the inspiration for Bey’s very first series, Harlem, USA, begun in 1975. Completed in 1979, the Harlem, USA pictures constituted Bey’s first solo exhibition (at the Studio Museum in Harlem) and first publication.

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Learn more about Kevin
When "Kevin" was about 6 years old, his father died - an event the Andover, Mass., teenager describes as both a blessing and a curse. Slouching on a wooden chair in an empty classroom, Kevin is photographed wearing an FCUK jacket and a ball cap with a custom-made graffiti design of his name.

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Morehouse College
More information about the only all male historically black college in the United States.

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Interested in learning more about photography?
Visit this wiki article.

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Community as Resistance
Exploring Dawoud Bey's photographic collection Harlem, USA and its engagement with the discourse on black aesthetics.

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Class Picture Day Flickr Group

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Batman -The Dark Knight OFFICIAL Theatrical Trailer
Trailer for the new Batman movie. July 08

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Books from Dawoud Bey
Check out some books on Amazon that Dawoud Bey has been involved with.

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Channels: Contemporary Art
Artists: Dawoud Bey

The "In the Factory" series brings you an interview with photographer Dawoud Bey as he discusses his career as an artist, working with high school students and his exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey.

I find Bey's work intriguing and unique in that it doesn't have a focus on the negativity of young people, as is often seen in the media. He depicts both the rawness of American teen life as well as intellect. My favorite piece is one that shows an African-American young lady at her desk with a distant but focussed look in her eye. it almost looks as if she is looking directly into her future. My compliments to Mr. Bey for his posiotive and intuitive view of the American youth.

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00:00:04 My name is Dawould Bey and the title of the exhibition is Class Pictures.

00:00:18 Class Pictures is an exhibition of photographs and text. The photographs are of the American teenagers,

00:00:29 American high school students, and all texts that were written by the students that I photographed.

00:00:47 The photographs are made in a number of different cities across the country and what I wanted to do is to make a kind of

00:00:57 a set of historical snapshots, if you will, of the population at this particular moment.

00:01:06 The population of American teenagers to kind of bring some sense of visual description to who

00:01:17 these young people are.

00:01:22 I first started photographing teenagers as my primary subject about fifteen years ago when I did a residency at the Addison Gallery

00:01:32 of American Art at Phillips Andover, and I was there for eight weeks making work and that was the first time

00:01:41 that I spent an extended period of time making work with, and about, young people,

00:01:52 as the primary subject of my work and that was in 1992. And as it turns out, that was the beginning

00:02:02 of what became a much lengthier project in which, even as the shape and form of my work has changed,

00:02:13 the thing that has been consistent about it from 1992 to the present is that the work is about young people that engages and attempts to bring

00:02:23 some heightened sense of description to who young people in America are, in a way that I think goes beyond

00:02:33 what's usually a one dimensional cliche or stereotypical kind of representation that young people tend to receive, within the larger

00:02:44 and broader popular culture.

00:02:51 I would say I've had a number of memorable experiences, not only making the photograph but actually hearing

00:03:03 from some of the young people in the project, after the photographs have been made. And I think one young man

00:03:12 in particular, Kevin, who is actually on the cover of the book that accompanied this exhibition was the one student

00:03:23 who I had photographed and I wasn't able to get a print to him afterwards because he was expelled from Phillips Academy, actually,

00:03:32 shortly after the photograph was made. And I always hoped that at some point, once the book was published and once the exhibition started to travel

00:03:44 that I would hear from Kevin since he was on the cover of the book and he was so prominently featured on lot of the reviews about the show

00:03:53 and sure enough I did. And I heard from Kevin and he is now a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

00:04:04 And there have been a few other students who after the fact of making the pictures had gotten in touch with me

00:04:13 to, you know, continue some form of contact or relationship after the fact. That probably for me has been one of the most moving aspects of doing the work.

00:04:32 Destiny, Fate...I became interested in photography when I was fifteen years old.

00:04:41 And, I got a camera from my godmother that had belonged to my godfather, who had just passed away,

00:04:52 and for no particular reason we had gone to her house after the wake of the funeral, I don't remember which,

00:05:02 and as we were getting ready to leave, she said, "Wait a minute, I have something you, something I want to give you" and I ran upstairs with her and she gave me a camera

00:05:12 and she said, "This camera had belonged to your godfather and I want you to have it." I wasn't at all interested in photography at that point

00:05:22 but getting the camera sparked my imagination and I decided that I needed to figure out how to use this thing.

00:05:32 So I started buying photography books and magazines to educate myself about what would one do with this camera

00:05:42 with all these numbers on the lens and the numbers on the side of the camera, when you turn it in, the shutter opens and closes, quicker or slower, but I had no idea

00:05:52 but it was getting that camera from my godmother that sparked my initial interest in photography.

00:06:04 From the beginning, my work had been primarily concerned with representing and making photographs

00:06:14 of the human subject. So Class Pictures certainly is a part of that larger fabric of my work

00:06:26 that began when I started making pictures, seriously, in 1975. I am very interested as an artist

00:06:36 in finding ways to talk about and to describe the human experience in photographic form, in a way that leaves the viewer

00:06:47 with some sense of having had, through the work, some contact with the real person.

00:07:00 I kind of look at everything. I don't think that any one thing that I, you know, necessarily look at

00:07:10 because I have been obviously looking at photograph and looking at, you know, art, looking at portraits critically

00:07:21 for a very long time. I think one of the things that has always inspired my work in a way that might not necessarily be

00:07:30 immediately obvious is music. I find, you know, music probably because I also am a musician

00:07:41 to be running my, you know, inspirations as an artist, to try to get a certain level of depth and perception in my photographs

00:07:52 that I find in the best music.

00:08:01 Lets see, Dark Knight was a good one!

00:08:05 Yeah, Dark Knight was a real, you know, highly emotive piece of work. So just off the top of my head because it is also one of the most recent films

00:08:15 that I have seen, I would say Dark Knight.

00:08:24 If I wasn't an artist, I would be what I am, which is also a musician and I am also a writer. I do a lot of writing, some of which is on photography,

00:08:35 most of which isn't. I am also involved in a number of curatorial projects, which I have been for a long time,

00:08:46 so for me it's not merely a hypothetical question, you know, because there are other expressive outlets

00:08:56 that I have for my ideas. Well, I think all of the things that I am engaged in allow me to be more fully and expressively

00:09:08 and intellectually present in the world in different ways. I mean, there are things that I am interested in talking about, an idea

00:09:17 that I am interested in working with that I don't necessarily want to make photographs about, that I can actually use

00:09:27 other artists works to talk about. So, for me it's all about being fully and expressively and intellectually present in the world,

00:09:38 which I think all of those things allow me to do and be.

00:09:48 Even as I realize that they are free to take from it whatever they will, if I had to have a hope, I would hope that, you know, the work gives them a sense of connectedness

00:10:01 to the larger human community.

00:10:08 Oh, I'll figure it out. Okay. Okay, now? [Whenever you're ready.] Whenever I'm ready.