Kicking off at the start of the autumn, critic and writer Antwaun Sargent announced his new project, Just Pictures, an exhibition hosted in St. Louis, Missouri, inspired by Sargent’s midwest upbringing alongside his direct link to Black photographers who work frenetically between the spaces of art and fashion photography. “This is that the new, the now, and this is often what’s getting to happen next,” Sargent tells ESSENCE. “They’re working during a way that i feel is exciting which should be seen everywhere.”
The exhibition, which ends on November 21st, is centered during a community where art might not be as celebrated in comparison to larger cities like ny or l. a. . In celebration of the situation, Sargent welcomed a modernistic crowd to require on his exhibit and introduce a replacement audience to a fresh crowd of young photographers. “Art is for everyone, so why can’t these shows happen in other places?”
ESSENCE spoke to Sargent about hosting his exhibit within the Midwest, from where he drew his inspiration, and therefore the work that also must be done. Read below.
How have you ever been with all that’s happening within the world?
Antwaun Sargent: I didn’t write anything, which i assumed was helpful to be ready to just be within the moment. I didn’t leave any in the least during the peak of the pandemic, and that I think that it had been important to offer myself the space to measure with the turmoil of racial protests and also the pandemic. I used to be just in my space. What has helped is that these projects, the book that’s beginning and this show in St. Louis, Just Pictures, are kind of long-term projects. I’ve worked on both of them for a few years. That has helped that it didn’t need to beat the instant.
When did Just Pictures become an entire project for you?
It in some ways comes out of the latest Black Vanguard. The questions that I even have whenever I start to believe an exhibition or i feel a few work of art really informs tons of my writing and curatorial practice. With the New Black Vanguard, there have been tons of questions that we need to around representation and self-presentation within the book and within the exhibition that’s traveling. And in these different spaces, they combat new meanings. you’ve got these image-makers a neighborhood of the show making photos that exist online, but they also exist in museums and gallery spaces and magazines.
I like that generosity, but also the standard of a picture that takes on new meaning counting on what space it’s in. But it also points to the ways during which these artists are working today. They’re not making images with one audience in mind. They’re making images with multiple audiences. The audience of the museum, of a magazine, which is extremely different than their own audiences that they need personally because they’re the inbuilt cultivator. I wanted to believe the ways during which these images operate in commercial settings, but also in additional conceptual settings.
What is the importance of your show being held in St. Louis?
I’m from the Midwest. I feel that always we have these conversations in big cities. we have these conversations in NY . we have these conversations in l. a. . we’ve this conversation in London and Paris, but we don’t have these conversations also in small cities or spaces. So, when the gallery reached out and said ‘Would you would like to try to to something in St. Louis,’ I said, absolutely. Why not have this conversation there? Why not confirm that these conversations around race and authorship and photography are being held everywhere? The Midwest features a really special place in my heart, but also just ensuring that as we mention art being for everybody it’s not just a platitude. It really is being shown everywhere.
I wanted to understand how you were ready to build these relationships with these artists and creatives to make your own personal projects?
This is my tenth year in ny , and that i have largely written, curated exhibitions, and had public conversations with young Black artists. So i feel that that commitment to Black art has made it easier in some ways to make these relationships simply because I’ve been during this work and doing this work. i feel that question’s important therein way that it allows for, again, more transparency. I didn’t have connections within the art world. I moved to ny after getting to college at Georgetown studying politics, and that i thought i might be a lawyer. i actually fell crazy with art and therefore the refore the artists that i used to be meeting within the studios that i used to be getting to and the museum shows, and that i just said, “I want to be a neighborhood of that world. and the way do I be a neighborhood of that world?”
Are we seeing maybe these publications allowing more Black critics to write down thanks to all that’s going on? Are you seeing any changes? What’s that space been like?
I have seen change. I’ve not seen enough change. i feel that you simply can’t say that there’s a drag with the art world and with the shortage of diversity, the shortage on inclusion, the racism, the sexism without watching your own organizations, especially if you’re a corporation who’s directly tied to our understand of art. i feel that there’s tons of labor to be done, and that i think that we all need to roll in the hay.