Art historian Shawn Michelle Smith—in her new book Photographic Returns: Racial Justice and the Time of Photography—examines the famous photograph of Emmett Till’s corpse.
Yet, while André’s recollection gave shape to the trajectory of Bajorek’s book—which is about decoloniality in the 1960s—his account also obscured an important collaborator in Diop’s practice: the photographer’s wife, Ndèye Teinde Dieng.
Given the issues exemplified by Smith and Bajorek, can there really be decolonial photography?
Smith’s description of Haynes’s portrait has a crescendo effect: the photograph is introduced with a vignette that intensifies as she folds in facts, anecdotes, and theories about antiblack racism in the United States.
Smith starts with a selection of images that are ingrained in the United States’s popular memory: Frederick Douglass’s perfectly parted hair, VanDerZee’s bourgeois Harlem, and cotton fields of the Deep South, to name a few.