tracing(s) belonging(s)

“tracing(s) belonging(s)” is an ongoing site-specific investigation made both in and about Harlem. Using a large format view camera, I mine the public and private archive, exploring collective memory and family history. The neighborhood has become my studio. I’m drawn to the physical shooting process, moving slowly through the streets around my apartment I work to weave my own story into the visual fabric of my neighborhood.

The objects featured in the still-lives belonged to my grandparents and hold personal sentimental value. As temporary constructions on the streets of Harlem, they become physical reminders of the legacies of the past as well as absent portraits of sitters long gone. The documentary street images provide context, surrounding staged scenes with anti-landmarks, forgotten storefronts and mid-block bursts of color. These lonely cityscapes balance the intimate moments made and captured by my camera. I’m interested in research, site, archives, and the physicality of images. “tracing(s) belonging(s)” is my attempt to preserve local histories and pay homage to Harlem’s rich cultural past with an eye towards the future.

*Image Credit:

untitled #1 from the series “tracing(s) belonging(s),” 2010.
copyright (c) Sonia Louise Davis.

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