The International Center of Photography, New York, is a leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. During its closure, Aesthetica selects highlights from its online programme – including talks, interviews and galleries.
Portraits have always been prevalent within photography. From 19th-century daguerreotypes to today’s digital selfies, they continue to be a way to understand ourselves and each other. ICP’s collection asks key questions about power and agency: What are the relationships between the photographer, sitter and audience? What happens when a subject loses control over their representation? What do these images show – and, perhaps more importantly, what do they hide?
In 2018 American photographer and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell (b. 1995) made history aged 23, becoming the first black practitioner to shoot the cover of Vogue in its 125-year history. This show foregrounds images of young people from Mitchell’s community. Set against idyllic backdrops, the works use natural light and bright colours to craft expressive compositions that revel in the experiences of youth. ICP presents audio tours and an accompanying playlist.
ICP is streaming a full talk with visual activist Zanele Muholi – whose self-portraits confront issues of ongoing racism through the organisation of spontaneous arrangements on their body. From the early 2000s, they have documented and celebrated the lives of South Africa’s black LGBTQI+ communities. “Muholi is developing new representations of how photography functions culturally and temporally within Africa,” ICP explains.
This is the first presentation of colour work by Magnum Photos co-founder Robert Capa (1913-1954). The photojournalist is well known for famous black and white images of conflict, but this gallery shines a light on his post-war snapshots. Featured above is an image from a series capturing skiing in Switzerland and Austria. Bright, snow-covered landscapes are captured in crisp whites and blues. Figures relax and play amongst rolling mountains – lying back and enjoying leisure time.
Dawoud Bey (b. 1953) is an International Center of Photography Infinity Award winner. In an online interview, he discusses his most recent body of work, Night Coming Tenderly, a series of black-and-white photographs that reimagine sites along the last stages of the Underground Railroad. “The photographs are meant to evoke the feeling of what it might have both looked and felt like for those fugitive black bodies moving through the Ohio landscape under cover of darkness,” Bey Notes.
Lead image: Untitled (Group Hula Hoop), 2019 © Tyler Mitchell
1. Christer Strömholm, Jacky, 1961. © Christer Strömholm/Strömholm Estate.
2. Boys of Walthamstow, 2018 © Tyler Mitchell.
3. Zanele Muholi, MaID III, Philadelphia, 2018. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of the artist, Yancey Richardson, New York, and Stevenson Cape Town / Johannesburg.
4. Zanele Muholi, Bester I, Mayotte, 2015.
5. Robert Capa, Skier sunbathing in front of the Matterhorn Zermatt Switzerland 1950 © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography Magnum Photos.
6. A Couple At A Main Street Bus Stop, Rochester, New York, 1989; From Dawoud Bey On Photographing People And Communities (Aperture, 2019).