Represent: HipHop Photography
March 5, 2018 - May 2, 2019
Represent: HipHop Photography the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture’s latest exhibition, is currently on display on the second floor in the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA) gallery. “Represent” is on view through May 3, 2019.
Inspired by the four elements of hip-hop - DJ’s, MCs, breakdancers and graffiti – “Represent” showcases photographs from the Eyejammie Hip Hop Photography Collection that illustrate the early days of hip-hop and its rapid expansion to a cultural phenomenon in the mid-to-late 1990s. Photos showing some of hip-hop’s iconic figures and moments are paired alongside other images from the museum’s photography collection to explore how different social movements, historic figures, art, culture and dance have influenced the musical genre. For example, artist Queen Latifah’s photograph is paired with an image of 1920s blues entertainer Gladys Bentley. The paring, or diptych, illuminates similarities between the two entertainers who often dealt with media speculation on their appearances.
In addition to photographs, the exhibition includes three short film excerpts from pivotal movies that chronicle hip-hop culture Wild Style (1983), Graffiti Rock (1984) and Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives (2015). A few objects that further demonstrate hip-hop’s relevance are also on display, including an unmastered pre-release cassette tape of Nas debut album Illmatic, a rare studio demo cassette tape of Mobb Deep’s second album, The Infamous, and an original New York City MTA subway door featuring graffiti tags by some of the city’s most prolific artists. CAAMA’s large interactive table displays an additional 170 images from the Eyejammie Hip-Hop Photography Collection.