Please, accept cookies in order to load the content.

The photographer John Edmonds’s Hoods (2016), further exposes how Black male identity is constructed into stereotypical tropes that come to be embodied in certain professions, class status, and garments. But central to Edmonds’ five portraits of an anonymous hooded figure standing against various backdrops, is how the artist uses the hoodie to withhold the possibility of knowing the identity of the figure in the hood. The power of the images lies in the way they lack specificity: we don’t know who we are looking at and why. So, we assume. Authorship plays a role and we proffer because Edmonds is Black, the figures must be too. But are they? The image disorientation is heightened in the ways Edmonds employs the commercial language of a product shot and the politics of assumptions that are inherent in how our culture looks at Black men with suspicion. Should we desire to buy the hoodie on display or should we fear what is concealed? The work magnifies the viewers experience and beliefs as it relates to the commodification and fetishization of the Black male body in popular culture. Each image is a kind of mirror that makes a perceptive viewer face themselves and their judgements and privileges. The Black male in a hoodie, seen through Edmonds’ eyes, is a reflection of invisibility, mistaken identity, a portrait that should make you question the irrational, diminishing effects of what is perceived and what is really seen. 



 

Antwaun Sargent

Antwaun Sargent is an art critic and writer who has contributed to The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vice and more, as well as essays to multiple museum publications. His first book, The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion (Aperture) was published in 2019.