© Sonia Louise Davis, untitled #22, tracing(s) belonging(s) series, 2011
© Sonia Louise Davis, untitled #4, tracing(s) belonging(s) series, 2011

Sonia Louise Davis: tracing(s) belonging(s)

February 1–September 30, 2012
Aguilar Library/NYPL
174 East 110th Street 
New York, NY 10029

Over the past year and a half I have been making images in and about Harlem with a 4×5 monorail camera. I’m drawn to the physical shooting process, moving slowly through the streets around my apartment in an attempt to weave my own story into the visual fabric of my neighborhood. I take Harlem as my subject and context, and my practice is both documentary and autobiographical. Drawing on collective memory and family history, I’m interested in framing the personal past in this mythic and everyday place.

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 see this body of work as a way to pay my respects to the important people in my life who have passed and to a historic neighborhood in the midst of massive change. It is my attempt to preserve local histories and pay homage to Harlem’s rich cultural past with an eye towards the future.

Read more about Sonia HERE.