Please join Philbrook Museum of Art Director Scott Stulen as he discusses “Killing the Negative” with poet and educator Quraysh Ali Lansana and draftsman Joel Daniel Phillips.
Thursday, January 28th at 6pm pst.
“Killing the Negative” is a series of writings and drawings by Lansana and Phillips in response to a subset of the Farm Security Administration’s (FSA) foundational commissioned photographs of the Great Depression. These images are of course, well known, and images like “Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange have become some of the most recognizable and important images in the American photographic lexicon. Less known, however, is the process by which these images were selected for publication: Roy Stryker was the head of the FSA, and for the first 4 years of the project, images he deemed unworthy were “killed” by punching a hole in the original negative.
The larger contemporary political debate is one that makes many of the questions from the era of the Great Depression deeply resonant; questions of race, class, labor and compensation, land ownership, stratified socio-economics and ecological protection are embedded in the original censored FSA photographs. The collaboration between Lansana and Phillips responds to the echoing voids in the narrative created by the censorship, weaving new images and words into the spaces left by Stryker’s hole punch. Within the project, Stryker’s destructive editing process acts as a larger commentary on truth and the veracity of the historical record, pointing out the flaws in our reliance on this record, and calling into startling clarity the power that a single individual had to shape the collective understanding of an entire nation.
Hosted by Hashimoto Contemporary for 4 x 8-bridges