Independent Lens: Through a Lens Darkly

Feb 9, 2015

Mon. Feb. 16 - 10pm on WKAR-HD 23.1 | The first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to the present.

"Crossroads" by Hank Willis Thomas
Credit Courtesy of Hank Willis Thomas / PBS

Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People probes the recesses of American history through images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost. Bringing to light the hidden and unknown photos shot by both professional and vernacular African American photographers, the film opens a window into the lives of black families, whose experiences and perspectives are often missing from the traditional historical canon.

Capturing the spirit of transformation that led African Americans from the deprivations of slavery to the self-sufficiency of economic mobility and social stability, the Independent Lens film also focuses on the ways in which black photographers learned to use the medium to construct strategically useful political, aesthetic, and cultural representations of themselves and their world.

These images show a much more complex and nuanced view of American culture and society and its founding ideals. Inspired by Reflections in Black by author Deborah Willis, the film features the works of Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Lyle Ashton Harris, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco, Clarissa Sligh, and many others.