The Birmingham Project of Dawoud Bey

All photos by Dawoud Bey, The Birmingham Project. Via the Whitney Museum

The Whitney Museum in New York City is currently showing the work of Dawoud Bey, an African American photographer with an inclusive eye.  One of his most inventive works is the Birmingham Project of 2012, commemorating 50 years since the Birmingham church bombing.  To remember the murder of six Birmingham children (the four girls inside the church and two boys outside later that day) he chose six youths from the city who were the same age as those killed.  He then paired them with adults fifty years older to give a sense of the years lost to the murders. 

He took some of the photos in the Bethel Baptist Church, a center of the local civil rights movement, and others in the Birmingham Museum of Art. At the time of the bombings in 1962, the museum was only open to African Americans on Tuesdays.

Note how he paired the faces and body language of the older and younger women. Sometimes he found echoes in their clothing, like the pleats in the first photo.  Sometimes he emphasized contrast, as in the black and white outfits above.

And what an impressive range of beautiful older black women.  It’s worth flying to New York to see these in person.

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3 Responses to The Birmingham Project of Dawoud Bey

  1. Rhoda K says:

    Wow, so impressive and a lovely tribute! Thank you.

  2. Bob Moeller says:

    Bey describes the project in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD9TtrG2uS4

  3. Black Tulip says:

    Such powerful images, thank you for sharing. I love the way that the poses of each pairing are neither exact copies nor mirror images, but still give such a strong sense of connection.

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