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Free As They Want To Be: Artists Committed to Memory

Free As They Want To Be: Artists Committed to Memory

Artbook | D. A. P.

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Accompanying the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial exhibition, Free as They Want to Be considers the historical and contemporary role that photography and film have played in remembering legacies of slavery and its aftermath, while examining the social lives of Black Americans within various places, including the land, at home, in photographic albums, at historical sites and in public memory.

The publication, which takes its name from James Baldwin's 1961 book Nobody Knows My Name, presents some 20 artists working in photography, video, silkscreen, projection and mixed-media installation, all of which explore the possibilities of freedom. Their quest to be “as free as they want to be” is envisioned in the subject matter they explore, as well as in their drive to innovate aesthetic practices in photographic mediums.

Photographers and artists include: Terry Adkins, Radcliffe Bailey, J.P. Ball Studio, Sadie Barnett, Dawoud Bey, Sheila Pree Bright, Bisa Butler, Omar Victor Diop, Nona Faustine, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Daesha Devon Harris, Isaac Julien, Catherine Opie, Yelaine Rodriguez, Hank Willis Thomas, Lava Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Wendel White and William Earle Williams.

  • Photography and film looking at the legacies of slavery in America from historical photo albums to contemporary installations
  • The artists and photographers featured are known for addressing the history of Black Americans and concepts of "freedom"
  • The title is taken from a 1961 James Baldwin essay: "Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be."
  • Product Type: Exhibition Catalog, Hardcover
  • 176 pages, with 100 illustrations
  • Published in 2022
  • Shipping Dimensions: 8.0 × 8.0 × 0.7 inches  (20.3 × 20.3 × 1.8 cm)
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 lb (24.0 oz; 680 g)
  • SKU010008031 | 9788862087803

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About the Author

Cheryl Finley

Cheryl Finley is the director of the Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective, a professor at Cornell University and the author of Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon (Princeton University Press, 2018).

About the Author

Deborah Willis

Deborah Willis is an artist, writer, and curator, as well as professor and chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She has been a Richard D. Cohen Fellow of African and African American Art History at the Hutchins Center, Harvard University (2014), a Guggenheim Fellow (2005), a Fletcher Fellow (2005), and a MacArthur Fellow (2000). Willis received the NAACP Image Award in 2014 for her coauthored book Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery (2013). Her other notable publications include Black Venus 2010: They Called Her "Hottentot" (2010), Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present (2009), the award-winning Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs (2009), The Black Female Body: A Photographic History (2002), and Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present (2002).

Artbook | D. A. P.

About the Publisher

Artbook | D.A.P.

Artbook | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. is America’s premier source for books on twentieth and twenty-first century art, photography, design and aesthetic culture. Founded in 1990 in downtown New York at a time when fine and sometimes esoteric international art books had a difficult time making their way into the wider American marketplace, over the past three decades D.A.P. has grown into a major international distributor of books, special editions and rare publications from an array of the world’s most respected publishers, museums and cultural institutions.

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