Stephen Daiter Gallery is pleased to present Dawoud Bey: Street Portraits. This exhibition coincides with the recent publication on the same series, Street Portraits by Dawoud Bey published by MACK (London, 2021). In the late 1980s, Bey began making portraits in his Brooklyn, Rochester, and Washington D.C. communities. This series marked the first time in which Bey transitioned from a 35mm small format camera to the more perceptible 4×5 inch camera. Utilizing Type 55 Polaroid film, Bey was able to create a reciprocal experience with his subjects – after posing for the photograph, the person received an instant 4×5 inch print. Bey retained the large negative, which allowed him to make enlarged prints later in the darkroom. These magnified prints lent themselves to vividly describe his sitters, their style, and their presence, creating an emblematic record of the time.
© Dawoud Bey
In his essay for the book, Greg Tate writes:
These portraits attest to the power of “the Black gaze” – how Black- folk’s eye-to-eye looking-back game can meet any righteous or even reckless eyeballing judgment the world might bring with an equal and opposing optical Super-Kryptonian heat-visioned (and haute-visioned) force – a stare, a glare, an inquiring dare, a wry comeback, an introspective indifference, a casual summation, an audacious insouciance, an Amazonian, eye-rolling snapback.
And that’s exactly what you get in Street Portraits, a very real moment between photographer and subject, fully embracing of culture, time, and place. On view will be a select group of Bey’s large-format prints, many exhibited for the first time ever.