Thomas Allen Harris: Mother, Bethel, Harlem, USA
Hunter East Harlem Gallery
2180 3rd Avenue
New York, NY
Through September 29
Mother, Bethel, Harlem, USA is an exhibition project by artist and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris. Harris will work in collaboration with students from the Hunter College IMA MFA program to build an interactive exhibition at Hunter East Harlem Gallery. Drawing from found, generated, and reimagined archives, as seen in Harris’ project Digital Diaspora Family Reunion, students will remix and expand the archive within the gallery space using methodologies that Harris has been pioneering for the over 25 years in his socially engaged, participatory, and experimental creative practice. Since 2009, through his project Digital Diaspora, Harris has collected over 3,000 interviews and stories where the photograph is the central launchpad for personal narrative. The materials and documentation from Digital Diaspora are interwoven with Harris’ family archive, sourced largely from the Harlem-based church First AME Church: Bethel.
Investigations into historical visual materials like family albums, vintage photographs, archival film, and personal narratives become central to the development of Mother, Bethel, Harlem, USA. These archival materials illuminate the neighborhood’s stories, giving shape to a history sourced directly from its residents. The result is a dynamic exploration into themes of collective memory, transference, and renewal within movements and communities. Throughout July and August, gallery visitors and passersby are invited to add their voices to the ongoing performance of the archive inside the gallery. The final outcome is a collaborative exhibition inside the gallery during the month of September 2018.