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Monday, October 6, 2008

Pitch Blackness

Hank's Book at the Strand © Nina Buesing Corvallo

Hank Willis Thomas' Monogram Pitch Blackness is now available from Aperture.
The other day at the Strand I saw Hank's monogram right next to a Bernice Abbot's monogram.
H.A.N.K.'S. book at the S.T.R.A.N.D.!
It was emotional. Seriously.
Hank is my dear friend and someone who has and continues to have a significant impact on me. I spent my years at Tisch hanging out with Hank, Emily, Pete et al. and living close to the Strand. The Strand proved itself better than the Tisch Photo library in educating me about the history of photography.
The Strand is where you went to get your copy of Irving Penn's Passage, Nan Goldin's Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Richard Avedon's's Evidence, James Van Der Zee's monogram.
It's where we went to buy one another birthday & thank you presents. And after the closing of A Photographer's Place it is the best store in Manhattan for Photography Books (Ursus is good too, but you are more likely to find a bargain at the Strand, plus the Strand is Downtown). So the Strand is a big deal for me and my little posse (right, Emily?!) and buying Hank's book there was special .

Polaroid: The Making of Black Power & Black Power © Hank Willis Thomas

Pitch Blackness is not just a book. It is a history; Hank's memorial & tribute to his cousin Songha Willis and it carries a powerful message of hope and love.
Songha's murder was senseless.
But Songha's memorial service was an immeasurable outpouring of love & emotion. The church was overflowing with people who loved Songha. Everyone came from everywhere. I had never been or have ever since been part or partaken in anything like it.
I cannot come close to imagining the deep sorrow of Songha's mother Leslie, his grandmother Ruth, the many cousins, aunts, uncles & close friends.
During the service I kept looking at Hank (to whom Songha was a like brother)& his family. And the days, weeks, years after --and even today-- wondering if I would have their grace and strength. A grace and strength they shared with Songha.
The last time I saw Songha was the night of my Graduate School Thesis Show, a couple of months before his passing.
We all went out that night to celebrate and at the end of the night Songha walked me to my house -near the Strand- making sure I returned home safe.

Songha Willis

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes I love The Strand! One of those New York-isms I honestly miss. There is no LA equivalent! Very nice words about Hank and Songha. I loved seeing the lecture and getting my book signed by the man himself. ;)