Represent: Hip-Hop Photography’ is the latest exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is located on the second floor of the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts.
What Is This Hip-Hop History Exhibit Designed To Do?
On Friday, May 6, the exhibition featured photographs from hip-hop historian Bill Adler’s Eyejammie Hip Hop Photography Collection. These images depict the early days of hip-hop and its growth into a cultural movement during the mid-to-late 1990s. “Represent: Hip-Hop Photography” displays a selection of some of hip-hop’s most iconic moments along with historical images from the museum’s collection. It’s inspired by the four elements of hip-hop: DJs, MCs, Breakdancers, and Graffiti.
This exhibition explores how cultural movements, famous figures, art, and dance have influenced the musical genre. As a social commentary medium throughout history, hip-hop has enabled artists to express their thoughts on society and draw attention to the problems of social injustice they face.
This exhibition draws attention to the genre’s development as it gained popularity over the decades. Moreover, it displays hip-hop’s link to African American history and culture.
Furthermore, in 2015, the National Museum of African American History and Culture acquired Alder’s Eyejammie Hip Hop Photography Collection. This is the museum’s most extensive collection of hip-hop photographs. Also, music historian and former Def Jam Records publicist Adler wrote about hip-hop culture, supported it, and explored it since the 1980s.
After shutting down his New York gallery, one of the first in the country to specialize in hip-hop photography, Adler gathered a massive collection. This collection contains more than 400 images by almost 60 artists. Famous photographers included are Harry Allen, Janette Beckman, Michael Benabib, Al Pereira, and Jamel Shabazz.
An Album With Extensive Content
This exhibition comes after the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap release. It’s an album that captures hip-hop’s evolution over the years. The anthology includes nine CDs containing 129 tracks of music. There is also a coffee table book with 11 essays. They belong to Cey Adams, the original creative director at Def Jam.
The exhibit was on display at the museum from 2018 to 2019. It will remain on display until Sep 25.
The NMAAHC opened its doors on Sep 24, 2016. Since then, over 7.5 million people have viewed its exhibits in person and millions more online. In addition, this nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., directly next to the Washington Monument. After all, it is the nation’s largest and foremost museum committed to educating the public about African American history and its influence on the world and American history.
Written by Nikiya Biggs
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