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KHALIK ALLAH March 9-May 12
It is easy to walk through a city not making eye contact, but for Khalik Allah this contact is essential. He sees each individual he photographs. And his photographs in turn allow us to see them, to acknowledge who we might ignore, to look through Allah’s eye and into theirs, and to recognize them as individuals. This is the power of Allah’s work: to give us a deeper sense of people as people, to share and enlighten, even when the message may not be clean or easy.
The works in this exhibition are drawn primarily from images in his recent book Souls Against the Concrete (University of Texas Press, 2017). Made at night on 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem, the images provide a glimpse into a world and people that many choose to ignore. His subjects are often drug addicts, homeless, or both. Using only the available light from shop windows, street lights, or subway platforms, he photographs them with a slow color film, a combination that produces images full of grain and texture, a visual shorthand for the roughness and intensity of life on the street, and his own struggles early in life.
Despite challenges early in life, Allah managed to maintain discipline and focus on self improvement. He credits these qualities, in part, to the teachings of The Five-Percent Nation. Inspired and empowered by their message Allah seriously pursued the study of metaphysics, black history, and literature. Likewise, with no formal art training, he pursued video work first at the age of 14, and then photography, making his first pictures in 2010. He taught himself how to use a camera from videos on YouTube and later devoured books at the library on work of #henricartierbresson #RobertFrank #nobuyoshiaraki #daidomoriyama #brucedavidson They also fit with the philosophies that he internalized from The Five-Percent Nation, using photography to enlighten us to the possibilities of humanity, especially within a community that remains largely invisible to many. In keeping with that perspective, he has referred to his photographic work as his “camera ministry.” Read more on our website