At Home in Harlem | Hyperallergic

The inaugural exhibition at the new Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute is concerned with demonstrating how one comes to belong to a place.

BY Seph Rodney

Amalia Mesa-Bains, detail of “Emblems of the Decade: Borders” (2015), mixed-media installation, 20 x 5 x 8 feet (Galería de la Raza, courtesy the artist)

Amalia Mesa-Bains, detail of “Emblems of the Decade: Borders” (2015), mixed-media installation, 20 x 5 x 8 feet (Galería de la Raza, courtesy the artist)

Home, Memory, and Future, the inaugural exhibition at the new, permanent location of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) in East Harlem, is faithful to its name. This show, at its core, is concerned with demonstrating how one comes to belong to a place: time, of course, and experience, but also by being anchored through historical records, stories, photographs, and other forms of visual culture.

But really it’s not a place, it’s this place — Harlem, where the longtime documentary photographers Dawoud Bey, Chester Higgins Jr., and Hiram Maristany have plied their practices, generating the images we see here, which in the logic of the exhibition become collective memories drawing the neighborhood circle tighter. One of the curators, Lowery Stokes Sims — who worked on the exhibition with Yasmin Ramirez, CCCADI founder Marta Moreno Vega, and Regina Bultrón Bengoa — explained the decision to place the work of these photographers on the ground floor in order to “capture a sense of those neighborhoods that are fast disappearing because of gentrification and change.” Indeed, according to the press release, the show “explores the concept of home in the age of gentrification and displacement.” But it’s not an age so much as a moment that’s nearing a crisis point in New York City, a place with a long history of existing in and sustaining the tension between the roaming, speculative powers of wealth and the rootedness of cultural identity.

Read more: At Home in Harlem | Hyperallergic

Related:

CCCADI Opens Doors to its New Historic Location

Considering Community as Art Galleries Help Gentrify Harlem | Hyperallergic

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