Contact High: Hip-Hop’s Iconic Photographs and Visual Culture

“Contact High: Hip-Hop’s Iconic Photographs and Visual Culture” spotlights the photographers who have played critical roles in bringing hip-hop and music culture imagery onto the global stage.

Featuring: Adama Delphine Fawundu, Adger Cowans, Al Pereira, Alice Arnold, Angela Boatwright, Anthony Supreme, Barron Clairborne, Bill Bernstein, Brian “B+” Cross, Cam Kirk, Carl Posey, Che Kothari, Danny Hastings, David Corio, Drew Carolan, Eddie Otchere, Ernie Paniccioli, Estevan Oriol, George DuBose, Hayley Louisa Brown, Ithaka Darin Pappas, Jamel Shabazz, Jamil GS, Janette Beckman, Jayson Keeling, Joe Conzo, Jorge Peniche, Lisa Leone, Lucian Perkins, Matt Gunther, Mark Humphrey, Mike Schreiber, Nabil Elderkin, Phil Knott, Ray Lego, Ricky Flores, Ricky Powell, Robert Adam Mayer, Shawn Mortensen, Sue Kwon, Trevor Traynor, Sha Ribeiro

Presented by

Contact High with support from Mass Appeal and Invictus Black

Curated by

Vikki Tobak; Associate curator: Syreeta Gates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Contact High” spotlights the photographers who have played critical roles in bringing hip-hop and music culture imagery onto the global stage. Photographers share their era-defining stories’ iconic images, what legendary street photographer Henri Cartier Bresson called ‘The Decisive Moment’. “Contact High” offers a rare glimpse into the creative process and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the imagery that shaped hip-hop and music visual culture. Getting access to the original and unedited contact sheets, we see the ‘big picture’ visual legacy being created. Contact sheets let you look directly through the photographer’s lens and observe all of the other shots taken during these legendary moments.

Hip-hop and rebel cultures have always been about self-definition, especially when it comes to visuals and style. For artists, that one iconic pose, press shot or album cover would play a major role in shaping them into icons by any means necessary—skills, style, swagger, bravado and visuals. Today, the way we digest and create cultural imagery has radically changed. Today’s visual landscape is haphazardly shaped from every direction. The contact sheets reveal how photographers shaped the evolution of a visual cultural phenomenon.

Let’s get analogue for a minute. Contrary to the iPhone’s dominance, film is not dead. In fact, there’s a whole movement of analogue film photographers hashtag bragging: #FilmIsNotDead #35mm #ishootfilm #analogphotography #analogvibes… the list goes on. In this digital age of Instagram and Photoshop, it’s easy to hide imperfections. Analog film reveals beauty and individuality by exposing imperfection and process. There is individualism and eccentricity in every shot, like the dust and grooves of vinyl records. Photographers typically don’t show their contact sheets. It’s their visual diary. Not every shot worked, in fact, most didn’t. Back when every photo was methodically shot on analog film, the negatives on a roll of film would be contact printed on photographic paper allowing you to see the full range of images that would eventually develop into the ‘money shot’.

ORGANIZATION BIO

“Contact High: Hip-Hop’s Iconic Photographs and Visual Culture” spotlights the photographers who have played critical roles in bringing hip-hop and music culture imagery onto the global stage.

The exhibition encompass more than 40 years of history and celebrates what and how photographers saw as hip-hop evolved into a global force. Coinciding with the publication of “Contact High: Hip-Hop’s Iconic Photographs and Visual Culture” (Clarkson Potter/Penguin Random House) to be published fall 2018.

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