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Moneta Sleet Jr. Courtesy of Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

With “The Black Image Corporation”, Theaster Gates has conceived a participatory exhibition which explores the fundamental legacy of Johnson Publishing Company archives. Featuring more than four million images, they have contributed to shape the aesthetic and cultural languages of African American identity.

Central to the exhibition are the works of two photographers, Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton, who both worked for Johnson Publishing. The publishing company created two landmark publications for black American audiences in the 1940s and ‘50s: the monthly magazine “Ebony” and its weekly sister outlet “Jet”, which quickly became two of the major platforms for the representation and discussion of black culture. The magazines covered historic milestones such as the March on Washington in 1963 and the first African-American astronaut, politics, sports and celebrities, as well as the complex realities black Americans faced in the US post-war era.

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Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Photo: © Mathias Völzke. Images courtesy Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.