Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious
About the event
A panel featuring curators Sacha Jenkins and Sally Berman and exhibiting photographers Joe Conzo & T. Eric Monroe.
A new exhibition that traces hip-hop’s origins— starting in the Bronx in 1973, as a social movement by-and-for the local community of African, Latino, and Caribbean Americans—to the worldwide phenomenon it has become 50 years later. Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious amplifies the individual creatives involved in the movement while surveying interwoven focus areas such as the set of women who trailblazed amid hip-hop’s male- dominated environment; hip-hop’s regional and stylistic diversification; and the turning point when hip-hop became a billion-dollar industry that continues to mint global household names
The exhibition brings audiences through five decades of history, culminating in recent imagery of the biggest names working in hip-hop today.
The show, which features archival ephemera to augment the contextualization of its photography, is principally laid out by chronology and geography. The curators will discuss their vision and ideas around focusing areas that include but are not limited to the early years, East Coast, West Coast, the South, and the newer wave of artists who have emerged since the mid-aughts.
The exhibition was created in partnership with Mass Appeal.
“It’s easy to forget that there was a time before hip-hop was an industry and before it made money,” said Sacha Jenkins, exhibition co-curator and Chief Creative Officer of Mass Appeal, who came of age in New York’s hip-hop scene of the 1980s (b. 1971). “It wasn’t conscious of itself. It was just existing with young people living their lives, dressing as they did, trying to entertain themselves with limited resources and creating an aesthetic that registered amongst themselves. It wasn’t for the world; it was for a very specific community. Then there was an exponentially paced transition where hip-hop culture became a conscious of itself as an incredibly lucrative global export. The exhibition’s lifeblood is the period before hip-hop knew what it was.”
“We made a thoughtful effort to have the presence of women accurately represented, not overtly singling them out in any way,” said Sally Berman, the exhibition’s co-curator, who among other roles has helmed photo direction for Mass Appeal and XXL. “You’ll turn a corner and there will be a stunning portrait of Eve or a rare and intimate shot of Lil’ Kim that most visitors won’t have seen before. There are far fewer women than men in hip-hop, but the ones that made their mark have an electrifying presence—just like the effect of their portraits interspersed throughout the show.”
photo credit: Hip Hop Ladies, Fort Green Brooklyn, 1995 (c) Adama Delphine Fawundu