The pictures from the last exhibition of Dawoud Bey really strike me. Acclaimed photographer, he is famous for portraits and very distinctive images that illustrate communities, show personal stories and everyday life experiences. But in this last series, for the first time, he decided to use landscapes and tell the story of racism without pictures of people. In the exhibition Night Coming Tenderly, Black, he explores and reimagines the Underground Railroad – a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States in the 19th century. The Railroad was used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada. When it gets its peak, the Underground Railroad was a way for nearly 1,000 enslaved people per year to escape from slave-holding states. 

Through these landscapes of a small town in Ohio (that was one of the Underground Railroad stations), Bey wanted to give the sense of that movement and recreate the atmosphere of that route. And the night, the central time when the journey to freedom was made, became one of the main heroes. Creating these images, Bey found inspiration in Langston Hughes’s poem “Dream Variation.” The poem is about the time when African American workers, exhausted by hard labor and discrimination during the day, could be truly free: “Night coming tenderly/Black like me.” 

The more information about the exhibition 

The more information about the artist 

The more information about the Underground Railroad 

Thumbnail photo from Wikipedia