Family Pictures : A Photo Essay
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This exhibit is intended to document aspects of the everyday existence and culture of African-descended populations in the New World: especially those in the remote areas of Central and South America.
After centuries of isolations along the coasts and in the rain forests, many of those communities are rapidly losing their cultural distinctiveness and may soon disappear altogether in the face of in-migration, armed conflict, globalization and accelerated social change.
Using photographs supplemented by narrative verses, the exhibit will endeavor to place their specific reality into a much larger framework of the African Diaspora.
It will link photographs of these people in their unexpected places with images of cultural and historical expression drawn from other more familiar locations, in and out of the hemisphere: these include Black communities in the Southern United States, the English speaking Caribbean and Western Africa.
Black populations' groups have arguably been in the hemisphere since pre-Columbian times, especially along the Yucatan peninsula. Their numbers increased very substantially with the onset of colonial societies when tens of millions of Africans were brought in to provide forced labor for a variety of European economic ventures.
It is impossible to understand the history and culture of the Atlantic World without an examination of the remarkable role of Africans and their descendants. In view of an unwillingness of many national governments and international institutions to acknowledge the existence of these populations and to invest in the geographical zones in which they live, this exhibit will at least serve to provide a more accurate picture of their existing reality.
It will also function as a tribute to these extraordinary men and women in the African Diaspora who despite modest means have continued to retain "the joy of life." Even more noteworthy is that they have managed to preserve a profound link with the spirits of their ancestors and the home continent and thereby continue to enrich the culture of the world and the entire human family.