Originally posted on Urban Bridge.com
Mass Appeal is partnering with Fotografiska New York to create a new exhibition that traces Hip-Hop‘s origins—starting in the Bronx in 1973, as a social movement by-and-for the local community of African, Latino, and Caribbean Americans—to the worldwide phenomenon it has become 50 years later.
“Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious” amplifies the individual creatives involved in the movement while surveying interwoven focus areas such as the set of women who trailblazed amid hip-hop’s male-dominated environment; hip-hop’s regional and stylistic diversification; and the turning point when hip-hop became a billion-dollar industry that continues to mint global household names.
Over 200 photographs, dated from 1972 to 2022, traces the rise and proliferation of hip-hop through five decades of work from the trailblazing image-makers who helped codify hip-hop as the most influential pop culture movement of its generation
Ranging from iconic staples of visual culture (presented with new context) to rare and intimate portraits of hip-hop’s biggest stars, the works on view traverse intersecting themes such as the role of women in hip-hop; hip-hop’s regional and stylistic diversification and rivalries; a humanistic lens into the 1970s-Bronx street gangs whose members contributed to the birth of hip-hop; and the mainstream breakthrough that saw a grassroots movement become a global phenomenon.
The exhibition, which was created in partnership with Mass Appeal and Chase Marriott Bonvoy, will debut at Fotografiska New York before traveling to several of Fotografiska’s international locations including Fotografiska Stockholm and Fotografiska Berlin.
The subject matter of Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious spans the “four elements of hip-hop” (rapping, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti) and several debated “fifth elements” including fashion and beatboxing, The exhibition brings audiences through five decades of history, culminating in recent imagery of the biggest names working in hip-hop today.
In addition to dozens of vibrant images of anonymous subjects engaged in the grassroots hip-hop culture of the 1970s and 1980s, solo portraits and group photos on view in the exhibition include a wide array of Hip Hop’s talent since 1973.
Alongside group photos, individual portraits are often placed in thoughtful proximity that draws new connections and nodes of reflection; Missy Elliott and Pharrell Williams, for instance, went to the same high school in Virginia several years apart, and therefore experienced similar formative influences despite not knowing each other at the time.
Artists in the exhibition include hip-hop’s earliest documentarians of the 1970s to younger photographers of hip-hop’s next generation.
“It’s easy to forget that there was a time before hip-hop was an industry and before it made money,” states Sacha Jenkins, exhibition co-curator and Chief Creative Officer of Mass Appeal. “It wasn’t conscious of itself. It was just existing with young people living their lives, dressing as they did, trying to entertain themselves with limited resources and creating an aesthetic that registered amongst themselves. It wasn’t for the world; it was for a very specific community. Then there was an exponentially paced transition where hip-hop culture became a conscious of itself as an incredibly lucrative global export. The exhibition’s lifeblood is the period before hip-hop knew what it was.”