Gregory Harris | Rahim Fortune – Episode 67

In this episode of PhotoWork with Sasha Wolf, Sasha and Michael travelled to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA to speak with Keough Family Curator of Photography​, Gregory Harris and photographer, Rahim Fortune about the amazing show, A Long Arc: Photography and the American South since 1845, up through January 14, 2024. Greg talks about how he and Sarah Kennel –curator of Photography at Virginia Museum of Art– collaborated on the curation of the exhibition, some of the history behind the work, and the practical and curatorial decisions needed in order to narrow down the breadth of work made in the south from 1845 to today. Rahim shares his process of writing the afterword to the exhibition catalog, with Dr. Shakira Smith, published by Aperture, and shares his response to the work in the show along with its historical significance to the history of Black photographers in the American South.

Rahim Fortune uses photography to ask fundamental questions about American identity. Focusing on the narratives of individual families and communities, he explores shifting geographies of migration and resettlement, and the way that these histories are written on the landscapes of Texas and the American South.

Rahim has published two books of his photographs. His work has been featured in exhibitions worldwide and is included in many permanent collections, including those of the High Museum in Atlanta GA, The LUMA Arles, Nelson Atkins Museum and The Boston Museum of Fine Art.

“Fortune’s calm and striking photographs provide a compelling glimpse into the daily rhythms of the community, revealing its deep humanity and dignity, at a time when his own personal pain resonated with the experience of the nation. But his images also capture the pain, tensions and relentless everyday reality that have influenced the lives of these people. His portraits are so grippingly engaging because he finds the necessary balance between thoughtful compassion and hard truth.” – Collector Daily

Gregory J. Harris is the High Museum of Art’s Donald and Marilyn Keough Family Curator of Photography. He is a specialist in contemporary photography with a particular interest in documentary practice. Since joining the Museum in 2016, Harris has curated over a dozen exhibitions including Mark Steinmetz: Terminus (2018), Paul Graham: The Whiteness of the Whale (2017), and Amy Elkins: Black is the Day, Black is the Night (2017). For the Museum’s 2018 collection reinstallation, he surveyed a broad sweep of the history of photography through prints from the High’s holdings in Look Again: 45 Years of Collecting Photography. His collaborative projects have included Way Out There: The Art of Southern Backroads (2019), a joint exhibition with the High’s folk and self-taught art department.

Harris was previously the Assistant Curator at the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago, where he curated exhibitions including Sonja Thomsen: Glowing Wavelengths in Between (2015), The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus (2014), and Studio Malick: Portraits from Mali (2012). He also organized and authored catalogues for the exhibitions We Shall: Photographs by Paul D’Amato (2013), Matt Siber: Idol Structures (2015), and Liminal Infrastructure (2015).

Harris also held curatorial positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he organized the exhibitions In the Vernacular (2010) and Of National Interest (2008). His essay “Photographs Still and Unfolding” was published in Telling Tales: Contemporary Narrative Photography (McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, 2016). Harris has contributed essays to monographs by Amy Elkins, Matthew Brandt, Jill Frank, and Mark Steinmetz. He earned a BFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago and an MA in art history from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This podcast is sponsored by picturehouse + thesmalldarkroom.