London/Pittsburgh is Mark Neville's first solo exhibition in Western Pennsylvania, and consists of twelve works from two significant projects, presented side-by-side. The pairing of Here is London (2012) and Braddock/Sewickley (2012) contrasts British and American society, further emphasizes social disparities, and yet reveals behavioral characteristics, which are shared regardless of economic circumstance, cultural factors or geographic location.
In both series, the artist confronts viewers with uncomfortable truths about imbalances that still exist in both countries. The artist’s concerns about division of wealth and racial segregation reverberate throughout Braddock/Sewickley. The race divide in Pittsburgh is startling in comparison to Neville’s images of the cosmopolitan British capital, but Here Is London reflects how the divisive effects of class and money have changed little in the UK over the past forty years. Images of traders at the London Metal Exchange and dancing crowds at the society nightclub Boujis are exhibited alongside photographs of activist groups like Occupy London and life at community centers in Tottenham. The photographs blend almost seamlessly into the work presented in Braddock/Sewickley of flashy high school proms and the disparate portrait of a man in front of the Edgar Thomson Steel Works in North Braddock.
Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity seeks to distinguish the historical and contemporary expressions of the Black Dandy phenomenon in popular culture. The first comprehensive exhibition of its kind, this project highlights young men in city-landscapes who defy stereotypical and monolithic understandings of Black masculinity by remixing Victorian-era fashion with traditional African sartorial sensibilities.
Dandy Lion also confronts the myth of the young Black man as “thug” via the juxtaposition of an alternative style of dress. Using the African aesthetic and swagger as a point of departure, dandy lions appropriate classical European fashion elements to articulate a self-actualized identity. The men photographed are exceptional in both style and manners and provide the opportunity for a paradigm shift to occur as it relates to how men of African descent are seen and treated by society-at-large.
Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity is a traveling exhibition curated by Shantrelle P. Lewis and organized by the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago.