Arts for a nonsensical world
Gordon Parks works from the first part of his two-part solo show @alisonjacquesgallery which ends on 1 Aug. It’s no coincidence that some of the greatest documentary photographers have struggled with their own adversities, and Parks is no exception, having been born into poverty and segregation. His humanitarian efforts and complete devotion to social justice is evident in these images – pleading eyes of children who have an acute awareness of segregation, the dignity of an elderly couple despite decades of injustice, and the profundity of text juxtaposed with visuals within an image.
This show includes images from two of Parks’ stories during his 20-year tenure at Life magazine: Segregation in the South (1956) and Black Muslims (1963), as well as the documentary ‘Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks’ (2000). Both photo-essays explore race relations, social justice, civil rights and urban life, and it’s evident that Parks placed immense value on forming relationships with his subjects (after spending time with Malcolm X for one story, Malcolm X asked Parks to be his daughter’s godfather).
In the documentary, Parks talks about writing a piece on Martin Luther King Jr’s death and how his words stared back at him and how he felt anger. He said ‘Photography, music, writing and films became my weapons.’