In celebration of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, we are highlighting Dawoud Bey’s work Untitled #14 (Site of John Brown's Tannery), 2017. The work is from his Night Coming Tenderly, Black, a series of 25 large-scale black-and-white photographs that re-imagine the movements of freedom seekers along the Underground Railroad.
This network of secret routes and safe houses, established in the United States during the early to mid-19th century was used by enslaved people to escape into free states in the North and Canada. In this body of work, Bey focused on the architecture and landscape around Northern Ohio and Lake Erie, one of the final passages of the route into Canada. Using both real and imagined sites, these richly toned photographs seek to recreate the spatial and sensory experiences of those figures moving furtively through the darkness of night towards freedom. Bey continues his visualization of collective experience and history, using photography as a vehicle to make history resonant in the contemporary moment. This work can be seen in our virtual Art Basel Online Viewing Room.
Dawoud Bey, Untitled #14 (Site of John Brown's Tannery), 2017 gelatin silver print image: 44 x 55 inches (111.8 x 139.7 cm) paper: 48 x 59 inches (121.9 x 149.9 cm) edition of 6 with 2 APs