I also discovering why my life and action

I am African American man and photographer, born and raised on the south side of Chicago. As my work speaks and focuses on African-American individuals, their cultural background and experiences, which, on the south side, sometimes involve socio-economically disadvantaged, including a lack of good paying jobs and little access to educational opportunities, racism, and a cycle of poverty that’s hard to break. My photographs speak about life on the south side, but also my own life as a transplant in Cincinnati. From the age of 15, when photography first came into my life I decided that I would use it, not only for myself, but to transform others, giving them a brighter outlook on our world. I want to present my audience with the kind of experiences that have made me the artist and person I am today. Deciding that I am only doing this for me and also discovering why my life and action can transform the next individual mind into a brighter outlook on our world, I want to present my audience with actions, changes,experiences and reasons that adjusted myself and made me do the activities that I perform. Utilizing identity, the gaze, and my perceptions of the world from older to present work all to understand myself and set an example for others, I’m doing this primarily through self- portraits and putting myself in another perspective and discovering the true Bruce Bennett. As 2012 became the most threatening and risky year for any male or family who is currently living in Chicago, specifically on the south side. Chicago, being the nation’s third-largest city, it wasn’t difficult for the city to catch attention on the media. Homicides being up by 38 percent from a year ago, and shooting percentage increasing, Chicago was becoming a city that no one ever expect  it to be , even as killings have held a steady pace in New York, Los Angeles and some other cities, Chicago put up a record of 500 homicide, now leading into a comparisons with one of the deadliest countries name Iraq. The violence has left its largest scars in some of Chicago’s most terrifying neighborhoods place on the south, west, and east side. Majority of the killings have been tied to Chicago’s increasingly complicated gang warfare, and the gritty neighborhoods where gangs have been born.Living day by day in a city filled with such an enormous amount of pain and animosity to many individuals and families, the action and behavior of the city police and gangs push or really force me to capture subjects that contain more beauty and positivity and less of the pessimistic controversy throughout the city that my home lay in. In the 1920’s the Harlem Renaissance was the beginning of a cultural movement characterized by an outbreak in African-American music and arts, arises an excessive amount of focus on reconceptualizing African American Identity. This reconceptualization has continued with the work of artists like Kerry James, Carrie Mae Weems, and Hank Willis Thomas and through  movements such as the NAACP, the Black Panther Party, local neighborhood marches and parades. Many African Americans came together to be a part of one demean culture, which rose after being unable to present their perspective or their story for so long. When we as African Americans finally gain the ability to speak for ourselves, we begin to create, form a unity, and stand as one. As of now, I am typically my own model, since I often work alone, know myself better than I know anyone else, and can shoot photographs of myself at anytime of the day. I’m just simply the only person available. I began to understand, that each photo that’s being captured is a representation of something. From the truth of the black experience to the singularity of an individual lifestyle and culture.American artist and photographer known for creating installations that combine photography, audio, and text to examine many facets of contemporary American life and also being the inspiration behind my work for many years, Carrie Mae Weems. Carrie Mae Weems worked towards  a large distinct body of work that contemplation of issues surrounding race, gender, and class inequality, bringing to light the voices the people and its history, through a multidimensional picture of history and humanity. Weems investigation of family relationships, gender role, political system class all perform major roles but race is what stands-out in the content behind Weems work. As a African American herself, she prefer her responsibilities to ” make art, beautiful and powerful . that adds and reveals, to beautify the mess of a messy world”. Having such a big priority to the art scene, she wanted to explore beauty within the African American history. She soon created series “Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment” and “Kitchen Table” that  played key roles through the shaping of racism and social justice. “Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment”, Using member of the Atlanta community and students from a class Carrie Mae Weems taught as an artist in residence at Savannah College of Art and Design, this body of work presents staged reenactments of important historic moments in the global quest for civil rights. The scenes are based on well-known photographs or television footage of such critical events as the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Malcolm X and the killing of students at Kent State University. In the companion film, Weems links these tragic events of the past with the present by noting that they are what made it possible for a black man and a woman to be competing for the Democratic presidential nomination, as was happening while she was creating the series. She believes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were “standing on the ashes and spirit of all that has come before.” The constructed nature of history is underscored through the purposeful inclusion of the lighting tracks, pedestals, and cameras used on set. As Weems touch based on her inner feeling and opinions on past historical events, she also introduce her series  “Kitchen Table” to the world.  Like Family Pictures and Stories, this series offers a valid portrait of an often overlooked subject, in this case, a modern black woman—”the other of the other.” The images trace a period in the woman’s life as she experiences the blossoming, then loss, of love, the responsibilities of motherhood, and the desire to be an engaged member of her community. The protagonist is Carrie Mae Weems herself—a practice that will continue throughout the next decades of her career. The role of words has become more prominent with fourteen stand-alone text panels that relay the at times rocky story. Near the end, the woman stands alone, strong and self-reliant, looking directly at the viewer, her arms squarely planted on her kitchen table, where the events have unfolded under a light of interrogation. Although Kitchen Table Series depicts a black subject and is loosely related to her own experiences, Weems strives for it to reflect the experiences of Everywoman and to resonate across racial and class boundaries. With the related themes of identity, history and race, the conceptual photographer HankWillis Thomas work speaks powerfully about the issues that echo far beyond the art world: the ambiguous state of race in America. As Hank  and his mother Deborah Willis being such a huge inspiration to the imagery of his work, he utilize language and recognizable symbolism to address the issues that’s neglected in today’s pop culture. As Thomas said ” In recent years I have approached my art practice assuming the role of a visual culture archaeologist, I am so interested in the ways that popular imagery informs how people perceive themselves and others around the world”.With that being said, Thomas expanded his mind set and examine and appropriated advertisement from 1968 ( the year of Civil Rights Movement) to the content and visual of his work that speaks on the questions of cultural stereotypes and how today’s media preserve it. In 2011, Thomas build a series titled “Branded”,  that adopts commercial-output to the commodification of African Americans. From contemporary sports to community activist and slave trading, he uses ads like Nike to branded the huge symbol onto a African American male head and having his subject dunk in a noose to confront our difficult history through the liability of advertisement. In the series that I am currently creating I want to grasp the understanding of my current existence and the natural instinctive state of mind which is the result of my own circumstances,  relationships with other people’s and my own daily life. Like I said this is all created for me to learn and actually contain the feeling of looking at myself from another perspective. I am currently photographing myself in multiple location and areas that contains important and significant memories and actions that’s necessary for the audience to know. Shooting mainly everyday or weeks from either 3am to 5 in the afternoon, each photograph is explaining a moment, a certain time or an important memory that shows and explain why I am the person that I am today. Beginning the series and capturing myself in such a painful and negative moment of time, I ask myself “what’s after this?”;  “What can be the next step?”. Focusing on every location that’s attach in my head like, bed, bathroom, friend’s house, the street that I walk through everyday, etc. I put each these specific location into consideration and seeing where my life takes me each day. The first photograph of the series titled “Untitled 1 and 2” is displaying a moment in time where I was seen capture in a home, a place of living more relevant and meaningful than anything at that time. Only living in this space for 2 weeks, the shortest amount of time I live in any other home ever in my whole 21 year of existence. The home of my friend Tae Shawn Manning, one of my closest friend here in Cincinnati Oh. Place on the left side of photograph is me sitting in chair. A chair that came from an older home, the chair that’s seen in my older series that was explaining my on-going relationship with depression. In the photograph you can see me showing an  intense gaze at the camera and my left arm across my chest that symbolize protection in some sort. Having nowhere to go at that time being, I thought needing to be protected and safe was the right action and emotion to display to the audience and camera. “Untitled 3,4,5” are photographs that symbolize pain, depression and discomfort through not just emotionally but physically. Documenting myself s at 4 o’clock in the morning in a diptych form, each photographs captures that endeavouring effort to walk up a hill with the injuring of tearing my ACl and meniscus. Seen in “Untitled 3”, me being position in a dog like form, captured on all fours, putting all the efforts to climb up the difficult hill that near my home. “Untitled 4” shows myself standing and placed in the center of the frame on the incline hill, but having a face expression that shows exhaustion. “Untitled 5″ display me at the top seen on the upper ledge. Finally going through adventure of completing the path of climbing the hill. Presenting”Untitled 3,4,5” as one piece to show the audience the complete story of battling to climb a intente hill with injuries of a Acl and meniscus on my left knee. “Untitled 7 and 8” are extremely meaningful photographs that shows myself located in my bed. A place where I thought for moment I was being sunken into. As the photos were taken a day or two after my surgery on my left knee after tearing my acl meniscus, my bed initially became my only home. Not having the strength to travel from room to room or not having the ability to walk normally, this small area that I was placed on in the photograph was the location that I felt glued down to and attach to for over 2 weeks. As you can see in the photographs, my left knee is wrapped up in a soft cast which the audience may see that as the main subject in picture. But as you go deeply into the details of the photographs, the surrounding of the location may seen as the most important. The white bowl and the other that’s on the bed , the presentation of my bed, the position that i’m placed in, the comfortable clothing that I am seen wearing. Everything that’s seen surrounding the the injured knee may considered as more influential and powerful than the main subject.As seen in the the past photograph “Untitled 7 and 8” where I’m presented in my bed displaying my injury of my left knee, the next six photographs of the series “Untitled 9-14” capture me in bed once again. They may seen as very similar to the past few photographs but these 6 images capture the moment of time of the everyday. As everyone know we all have a different way of starting the day. It may be waking up and going to the bathroom or waking up and thinking of how the day is going go. Capturing myself at 8 o’clock in the morning and looking in a different perspective of how i’m beginning the day. Conclusion, In the series that I am currently creating “Untitled”, I want to grasp the understanding of my current existence and the natural instinctive state of mind which is the result of my own circumstances,  relationships with other people’s and my own daily life. As my work speaks and focuses on African-American individuals, their cultural background and experiences, which, on the south side, sometimes involve socio-economically disadvantaged, including a lack of good paying jobs and little access to educational opportunities, racism, and a cycle of poverty that’s hard to break. My photographs speak about life on the south side, but also my own life as a transplant in Cincinnati. Deciding that I am only doing this for me and also discovering why my life and action can transform the next individual mind into a brighter outlook on our world, I want to present my audience with actions, changes,experiences and reasons that adjusted myself and made me do the activities that I perform.

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