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Photographer of the Week #139: Elliott Jerome Brown Jr.

Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. is a New York photographer who was selected for The New York Times Portfolio Review and the Imagining American Fellowship before even completing his BFA at NYU.  His most recent and ongoing project Foundations is, in his words, “not a series per se” but rather visual invitations to interact with singular moments in already established narratives.  These stories that an audience is meant to feel they are peering into in progress operate from “the intersection of queerness and black identity” to challenge constructs imposed on the black body.

By approaching his non-series in this way, Brown achieves a sense of “subjective selves,” factual and fleshed out representations that are simultaneously incomplete and firmly resistant to a feeling of portraiture.  The images in Foundations are a partner dance of occlusion and reveals that refuse to adhere to easily categorizable ideas of queerness or blackness.  Foundations takes place in private spheres, primarily bathrooms, and toys with the tension between the bodies of the subjects at rest and the potential imposition of the outside eye.  In one image, Untitled, Brown examines history’s insidious habit of infringing on even the most intimate and individual moments, picturing a black foot only partially visible from behind a colonial-print shower curtain.

These are but brief moments in lives that began long before the gaze of an audience and will continue on after an audience looks away.  This beautifully unapologetic elusiveness defies easy narrative resolution and creates a simultaneous sense of preexisting “foundation” and futurity.

For more of Brown’s work, please take a look at his website.

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