Crossing the Blues

Thursday, October 7, 2010

BT: The Last Days-The Opening Reception

This story of the lives of the residents of Newark, NJ's demolished notorious projects, Baxter Terrace really struck a chord with me. The notable fine art photographer, filmmaker, and photojournalist, Akintola Hanif, establishes relationships with the residents during his continued studies of gang relations. He discovers that BT will soon be no more and begins his quest into how this will effect the many lives of its residents.
I was a small child coming up in Newark with my mom in the 7th Avenue projects until I was about 4-5 but I continued to visit my peoples out there occassionally until they were all knocked down in my late teens. I know the stigma attached to the "lower class" as if their conditions are hopeless and their lives are completely void of value. My mom, who lived in the projects for the 2nd half of her childhood into adulthood, went on to become a college professor and Director at one of NJ's largest hospitals. So much for this hopelessness theory.

For me, it was seeing the image of that brother with his head poking from the steel door entry on the marketing materials that reflected the weight of the burden of the Black poor and analogy of being shut away and hidden from "polite society".  His head stubbornly reveals the strength and utter determination of a people insisting on being acknowledged. His head beckons to be recognized. His eyes, though weary, pronounce, "YO, I'M STILL HERE!"

Akintola cleverly used this door, bolted to the floor of his studio, during the reception.

Check the video of the opening reception here:

Learn more about Akintola Hanif here :
See the exhibit in person here:
31 Central Avenue, Studio #7
Newark, NJ 07102
(646) 434-7815