Using the history of the great immigration in the US in the 1900s and her memories, Dannielle Bowman pictures her family’s past

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The photographer searches for the subtle details that evoke emotion and memory in and around her neighbourhood

“They did what human beings looking for freedom, throughout history, have often completed. They left. ” This particular monumental sentence written by Isabel Wilkerson resonates as highly today as it did whenever she wrote it over a decade ago. In her book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The particular Epic Story of America’s Great Migration , the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist charts the perilous journey of 6 million African Americans from the Jim Crow South to the North and West, in between 1915 and 1970. Want other epic migrations, previous and present, Wilkerson details the treacherous and exhausting experience of seeking a better living and how countries and towns evolve through the blending of cultures.  

Dannielle Bowman is a daughter of the excellent migration. Her maternal grand daddy moved from Denton, Texas, to Los Angeles in the mid-50s. Intrigued by both the girl family history and how the sociological landscape of Black The united states as it is today came to be, the New York-based artist became fascinated with The Great Migration and Wilkerson’s book. “I’m interested in the strain between the macro and tiny, ” she tells me. “How these intimate, small size decisions affected people’s lives, while simultaneously there is a lot bigger shift happening. Family history, prior to your existence, is so interesting – every detail plus decision shapes whether a person exist or not. ”

© Dannielle Bowman.

Within her project What Experienced Happened, Bowman returns with her childhood neighbourhoods in UNA, such as Crenshaw, Inglewood and Bolton Hills. She initially considers the baby boomer generation’s everyday experience and the quotidian details that lead to a Black neighbourhood being a Black neighbourhood. Through collaborations with family members, friends, acquaintances and strangers, she creates poetic meditations on the small domestic details that evoke our storage and history. “I think about Black homes and neighbourhoods as their own kind of museums, ” says Bowman. “I consider them institutions in their own right, moulding people who live there. ” 

Each frame describes a regular beauty; the worn patina of carpeted stairs, the perfect Bump ‘n’ Curl, the particular altar-like appearance of a mantlepiece proudly lined with household photographs. Bowman points to a historical period that holds personal significance while fighting off autobiography, situated somewhere between observation and construction. “I’m looking for details that blossom into full-blown fantasies or memories, ” she says. “I’m fascinated with what these symbols do once you witness them. ” The task is about activating emotion rather than simply describing what is. Picture by picture, Bowman stimulates the viewer to reveal upon the subtle methods the notion of home manifests as emotional memory, kept in our mind and caused in strange and unforeseen ways.

© Dannielle Bowman.

Due to the pandemic’s travel restrictions, Bowman offers spent the last 18 months growing the project to the East coast, choreographing new connected with each other histories. Marked by the girl deft use of light, the job oscillates between the surreal, household interiority and disarming attractiveness. What Had Happened dynamically cultivates an internal rhythm – an energy that connects decades and cultures. With every photograph, Bowman unfolds del cuerpo and spatial intimacies that reach far beyond the particular frame.

© Dannielle Bowman.

Gemstone Fletcher

Creative director, writer, podcaster and photograph director, Gem Fletcher works across visual-cultural fields, focusing on emerging talent in modern photography and art. She actually is the photo director associated with Riposte Magazine, and offers a photography podcast, The Messy Truth.

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