In keeping with its commitment to provide a platform for art engaging with critical issues of our time, Wrightwood 659 is honored to host Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt, the most comprehensive U.S. survey of the work of Shahidul Alam, renowned Bangladeshi photographer, writer, activist, institution-builder, and a Time magazine Person of the Year in 2018. With more than 80 black-and-white and color images, Singed But Not Burnt presents the breadth of Alam’s practice and impact throughout his four-decade career. Closer to home, Patric McCoy: Take My Picture features a selection of 50 striking photographic portrayals of gay Black men taken on the streets of Chicago in the 1980s. These photographs were shot by Patric McCoy, Chicago native, retired environmental scientist, and noted collector of African American art, who traveled around Chicago, often on his bike, always with his camera.
Installed on the second floor of Wrightwood 659 from April 14 to July 15, 2023, both exhibitions are presented by Alphawood Exhibitions at Wrightwood 659.
Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt
Exhibition of Renowned Bangladeshi Photographer, Writer, and Human Rights Activist
The images in the exhibition were selected from Alam’s extensive archives in Dhaka. Alam began documenting street protests in Bangladesh in the early 1980s. Since then, the desire to use the camera to resist political corruption, document the struggle for democracy, and cast light on what is suppressed, has formed the core of his practice.
Singed But Not Burnt includes portraits; landscapes; scenes of daily life, strife, and resistance in the “Majority World”—a phrase Alam coined in the 1990s to describe “developing countries” in the Global South. The phrase confronts the ways Western media continue to portray the majority of the world’s population—especially in Bangladesh—in relation to poverty and disaster.
Patric McCoy: Take My Picture
Exhibition of Poignant Images Provides a Rich Document of 1980s Black Gay Chicago
Over a crucial ten-year period, McCoy shot thousands of images—always at the subjects’ request—which form a rich document of 1980s Black gay Chicago. Take My Picture features a selection of some 50 black-and-white and color photographs from this decade, by the end of which thousands would die of HIV/AIDS, including many of McCoy’s friends, lovers, and subjects. McCoy’s subjects are neither posed nor directed; each has agency over how he is seen, elevating his humanity, inverting and subverting the viewer’s gaze. Take My Picture can be seen as a poignant marker of place, time, and memory; an altar to those lost.
The exhibition is curated by Juarez Hawkins, artist, educator, and curator, who noted, “McCoy and his camera fulfilled an unspoken need for Black men to be seen. Seen by someone who did not objectify them as ‘Other’, but an insider who allowed them, paraphrasing Langston Hughes, to be their ‘beautiful black selves’.”
Also on View at Wrightwood 659
Running concurrently with Shahidul Alam: Singed But Not Burnt and Patric McCoy: Take My Picture is Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk, a luminous electronic art installation combining ancient poetry and modern Anime
New Hours of Operation (Starting April 14, 2023)
Thursdays 1-8 pm; Fridays 12 noon-7 pm; Saturdays 10 am-5 pm
Admission for all three exhibitions is $15 and available online only at https://tickets.wrightwood659.org/events. Please note, admission is by advance ticket only. Walk-ups are not permitted.
Wrightwood 659 (659 W. Wrightwood, Chicago, IL 60614)