Black Face

Black Face

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Of all of David Levinthal's series of photographs, none is more challenging and provocative than his "Blackface" series, created over the previous three years. In his blow-up images of miniature toys he has recreated scenes of racism, genocide, and sexual fantasies. This series explores the Blackface myth embodied in "black memorabilia," household objects infused with African-American stereotypes. These images make the Blackface myth speak to us directly, without an intermediary, and demand a response from us regardless of our race, age, or gender. Levinthal's "Blackface" images present a paradox, one that pits the beauty of photographic representation against the racism underscored by these ignoble objects. Magnified with a 20 x 24 inch Polaroid camera, the "Blackface" pictures explore viewer subjectivity and question the manufacture and popularity of "black memorabilia," particularly the recent resurgence of their collectibility among African Americans. The photographs are accompanied by an in-depth essay by noted writer, critic, and filmmaker Manthia Diawara, an expert on the representation of African Americans in film, photography and popular media. This book promises to make a significant contribution to contemporary African-American studies.