Uniting a gap of 50 years, American Black & White at Magnum Print Room, London, draws a portrait of metropolitan and rural America through the medium of monochromatic photography. Offering the contemporary works of Matt Black (b. 1970) against Elliott Erwitt’s (b. 1928) depictions of the 1950s, the show disrupts traditional notions of chronology by bringing into focus the connections and contrasts between the two time periods. Foregrounding social upheaval and injustice, as well as the potential for transformation and regeneration, the exhibition highlights the shifting socio-political landscape of America.
Black’s practice is interested in inequality, investigating the relationships between migration, agriculture and the environment. The Geography of Poverty travels across 44 US states, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and South Dakota, documenting life in the country’s most overlooked regions. Taken in the early months of Donald Trump’s presidency, the images are strikingly current, and emphasise the increasing gap between the country’s richest and poorest citizens. The recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Prize, the work examines communities, in which poverty rates are in excess of 20%, poignantly revealing tensions between notions of pride and conditions of violence and prejudice.
In a similar documentary style, Erwitt’s previously unseen reportage collection records the modern renewal of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Commissioned by Roy Stryker to chart the city’s transformation from a polluted, post-war landscape into a cleaner, contemporary metropolis, the artist captures the locale’s changing architecture and residents, chronicling the lasting individuality of the area. Abandoned upon the practitioner’s conscription into the US Army, the project is exhibited in this context for the first time.
From 1 December. Find out more: www.magnumphotos.com
1. Gateway Center Demolition area, Pittsburgh 1950 © Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos Courtesy: Carnegie