this project challenges racist representations of black men in photography

February 20, 2017

The image of the Black man is one wrought with stereotypes. Whether it’s the savage brute or the hypermasculine ego, the mugshot or pictures face down on the pavement, Black men are rarely depicted with the humanity they so earnestly deserve. Photographer Erica Deeman is trying to change all of that through her series “Brown,” celebrating Black manhood and challenging the racist representations of Black men in photography, visual art, and in the media. The San Francisco-based artist took to the streets asking strangers to pose for her and each of them are captured shirtless from the shoulders up, mimicking the kind of portraiture historically reserved for wealthy patrons, nobility, and the economically elite. Reclaiming these depictions is not only cathartic, but reintroduces an element of truth that the photographer feels is lacking in the history of the art form. Deeman had this to say in an interview with Huffington Post, “I think photography is problematic because so many people see it as the truth. It has made people buy into physiognomy and eugenics and all of that. I always joke that the photograph was the biggest lie that was ever made.” Well the truth-telling she’s capable of is out of this world and we’re thankful for this work. Take a look at “Brown” by Erica Deeman and get your dose of beautiful Black man today.

By T. McLendon, AFROPUNK Contributor

Courtesy of Erica Deeman and ANTHONY MEIER FINE ARTS