Once (Now) Again by Lyle Ashton Harris at the 2017 Whitney Biennial!

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Still Life (Spill), Europe, 1992, Lyle Ashton Harris

Last March, I had the pleasure to join my brother, artist Lyle Ashton Harris at the the 2017 Whitney Biennial opening reception to celebrate his exhibition Once (Now) Again.

Lyle Ashton Harris’s Once (Now) Again, a site-specific multimedia installation, features a three-channel video work comprised of projected images taken from Harris’s Ektachrome Archive (photographed 1986–2000) as well as three new video works using footage originally recorded on Hi-8 and MiniDV format in the 1990s.

As an intimate record of late 20th century life that straddles the realms of public and private, Once (Now) Again submerges the audience in a period of monumental cultural shifts that continue to impact contemporary social, political and artistic landscapes.


(l to r) Thomas Allen Harris, Pamela Sneed, Margaret Nelson and Lyle Ashton Harris in his installation at the 2017 Whitney Biennial during the opening reception

The Whitney Biennial marks the New York premiere of Harris’s new installation and video works since their debut in the 32nd Bienal de São PauloOnce (Now) Again, 2017 will be on view at the Whitney Biennial (Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street New York, NY 10014) from March 17- June 11, 2017! It was great to experience this monumental installation having witnessed it and Lyle’ work over the past 25+ years. It is a powerful exploration of archive as art/practice and even more moving for its poetic reference to seminal events, moments and movements that ushered in paradigmic shifts  within the areas art and culture, museums and scholarship – including the Whitney’s Black male show organized by Thelma Golden in 1992, the Black Popular Culture Conference in 1991 as well as the centrality of Queer activism and Diasporic connections.

Herb Boyd, Michele Wallace, Skip Gates, and Jacqueline Bobo, Black Popular Culture conference, Dia Art Foundation, New York, December 8-10, 1991

Herb Boyd, Michele Wallace, Skip Gates, and Jacqueline Bobo, Black Popular Culture conference, Dia Art Foundation, New York, December 8-10, 1991

In the Wall Street Journal, Adam Lehrner writes:

Bronx-born artist Lyle Ashton Harris utilizes a broad artistic practice comprising photography, collage, installation art, and performance art to contextualize his personal life as a queer black man alongside broader histories of activism and social progress. His Whitney Biennial installation, Once (Now) Again is part of a larger ongoing project, the Ektachrome Archive, made up of slide images shot between 1986 and 1998, photographic prints from Harris’s journals, and diaristic video works. The slide images are projected intermittently on three podium like stands. I watched the slides shift for some time, and found myself faced with beautiful images of Harris’s friends, family and lovers. His video pieces in the installation are remarkably intimate, as if Harris wants to invite viewers into those most precious moments of his life. Harris’s archive find him placed front and center in several seminal moments for civil freedoms and progressive humanity: the emergence of multiculturalism, the second wave of AIDS activism, and the interconnection ‘of the contemporary art scene with LGBTQ and African diasporic communities.’ Harris has the humanity to acknowledge himself as a political being and the bravery to place himself in the context of political and social history for a viewing public. His work is a powerful reminder than an artist at his/her best can only see the world through their very own eyes, and to ask the world to look through their eyes to gain new perspectives.

Lyle Ashton Harris at Pride, San Francisco, 1993

Lyle Ashton Harris at Pride, San Francisco, 1993

There has long been a dialogue – direct and in-direct –  between our work as brothers and sometimes collaborators. Our discussion around our intersecting histories and, more precisely, Lyle Ashton Harris’ Ektachrome Archive, will be published as a central essay in his forthcoming book on his Ektachrome Archive entitled Today I Shall Judge Nothing That Occurs,  will be published by the Aperture Foundation in October 2017.


Alexandra Epps and Thomas Allen Harris, Pride, San Francisco, 1992



Lyle Ashton Harris (left) with his studio Assistants Parrisah Lin (right) and Erin Sweeny.


Once (Now) Again
March 17 – June 11

Co-Curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014

Click here to see more info!

Visit our Flickr album to see more photos!

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