Aperture #223
“Vision & Justice”

Aperture #223
“Vision & Justice”

Aperture Magazine

May 24, 2016

Aperture #223
“Vision & Justice”

Summer 2016


Aperture magazine honors the African American experience in a landmark issue.

As the United States navigates a political moment defined by the close of the Obama era and the rise of #BlackLivesMatter activism, Aperture magazine releases “Vision & Justice,” a special issue addressing the role of photography in the African American experience, guest edited by Sarah Lewis, the distinguished author and art historian. 

The immense range of images and writing in “Vision & Justice” underscores photography’s unique corrective power and ability to shape a new vision of the country. “Vision & Justice” includes photographic projects by such luminaries as Lyle Ashton Harris, Annie Leibovitz, Sally Mann, Jamel Shabazz, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and Deborah Willis, as well as the brilliant voices of an emerging generation—Devin Allen, Awol Erizku, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Deana Lawson, and Hank Willis Thomas, among many others. These portfolios are complemented by essays from some of the most influential voices in American culture, including Vince Aletti, Teju Cole, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Margo Jefferson, Wynton Marsalis, and Claudia Rankine

“When I was asked to guest edit this special issue devoted to photography of the black experience—the first of its kind for Aperture—I could think of no other theme,” notes Sarah Lewis. “No matter the topic—beauty, family, politics, power—the quest for a legacy of photographic representation of African Americans has been about these two things: vision and justice. The centuries-long effort to craft an image to pay honor to the full humanity of black life is, in and of itself, a corrective task for which photography and cinema have been central, even indispensable.” The issue was inspired by Frederick Douglass’s 1864 speech “Pictures and Progress,” a call to consider the transformative power of pictures in affecting change in the United States.


Words—The sharpest ideas in photography
“Frederick Douglass’s Camera Obscura” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 
“The Black Photographers Annual” by Carla Williams
“Black Lives, Silver Screen”: filmmaker Ava DuVernay and cinematographer Bradford Young in conversation
“Love Visual: A Conversation with Haile Gerima” by Sarah Lewis and Dagmawi Woubshet
“Picturing Obama” by Maurice Berger
“Carrie Mae Weems: Around the Kitchen Table”: reflections by Dawoud Bey, Jennifer Blessing, Katori Hall, Robin Kelsey, and Salamishah Tillet

Pictures—The magazine’s visual showcase
Awol Erizku (introduction by Steven Nelson) / Toyin Ojih Odutola (Claudia Rankine) / Lorna Simpson (Margo Jefferson) / Annie Leibovitz (Nell Painter) / Deborah Willis (Cheryl Finley) / Sally Mann (John Stauffer) / Jamel Shabazz (Khalil Gibran Muhammad) / Devin Allen (Aaron Bryant) / Leslie Hewitt (Rujeko Hockley) / Lyle Ashton Harris (Vince Aletti) / Radcliffe Roye (Garnette Cadogan) / LaToya Ruby Frazier (Teju Cole) / Dawoud Bey (Leigh Raiford) / Deana Lawson (Thomas J. Lax)


The Jazz Musicians
, with contributions by:
Wynton Marsalis / Ingrid Monson / Alicia Hall Moran / Jason Moran / Somi

A List of Favorite Anythings by Hank Willis Thomas

Bridget R. Cooks on Harlem on My Mind (1968) 

Object Lessons
Thelma Golden on James VanDerZee, Christmas Morning, 1933

Use #VisionJustice to join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Sarah Lewis is assistant professor of the History of Art and Architecture and African American Studies at Harvard University. The author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, she has served on President Obama’s Arts Policy Committee and currently serves on the advisory council of the International Review of African American Art and the boards of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Creative Time, and the CUNY Graduate Center. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, Lewis held curatorial positions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Tate Modern, London, and taught at Yale University School of Art.

Aperture: The Magazine of Photography and Ideas
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May 24, 2016

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