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3 Photographers Expose Race in America c. 2016

Who gets to look at the camera? Who cannot look at the camera? 'Looking Through: Photography, Race, and Identity' explores these complexities.
Shikeith, #Blackmendream (film still). All images courtesy of the artists.

The exhibition Looking Through: Photography, Race, and Identity captures racial realities that are painful and contemporary. Photographers Shikieth, Gareth Smit, and Stacey Tyrell employ photographic approaches that explore blackness in vastly different contexts.

The show at Adelphi University centers on narratives that attempt to unpack what global blackness means to the photographers—Smit is white South African; Tyrell is Canadian of Caribbean descent, and Shikeith is African American— and their own identities in the narratives that run throughout the exhibition.

“For me, the most exciting aspect of the exhibition are the relationships between the different artworks,” explains the exhibition's curator, Hannah Smith-Allen. “Smit’s documentary project on Eric Garner puts the exhibition into a contemporary context and asks viewers to consider racial identity in the wake of recent police abuses. Shikeith’s work almost seems to respond to Smit’s photograph,” she says.

Stacey Tyrell, Ismay 42 years, from Backra Bluid seriesShikeith, The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do itGareth Smit, Almost a year after the death of Eric Garner, a small group of protestors led by his family members meet occasionally to demonstrate against police brutality and in demand for justice. Garner's 65 year old mother, Gwen Carr, still attends many of these protests.Gareth Smit, Church members perform at the First Baptist Church in Stapleton, nearby Tompkinsville, Staten Island, NY. The African American community in Staten Island have suffered under systemic racism endemic to an island that traditionally is the most conservative district of New York City.  Stacey Tyrell, Cait, 12yrs. and Alyson, 12yrs., from Backra Bluid series