Mass Appeal Partners With Fotografiska For Major New Exhibition “Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious”

Mass Appeal Partners With Fotografiska For Major New Exhibition "Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious"

Entertainment company Mass Appeal partners with Fotografiska for major new exhibition as part of Hip Hop 50 initiative

A major new exhibition of over 200 photographs, dated 1972 to 2022, traces the rise and proliferation of hip-hop through five decades of work from the trailblazing image-makers who helped codify hip-hop as the most influential pop culture movement of its generation

Ranging from iconic staples of visual culture (presented with new context) to rare and intimate portraits of hip-hop’s biggest stars, the works on view traverse intersecting themes such as the role of women in hip-hop; hip-hop’s regional and stylistic diversification and rivalries; a humanistic lens into the 1970s-Bronx street gangs whose members contributed to the birth of hip-hop; and the mainstream breakthrough that saw a grassroots movement become a global phenomenon

Mass Appeal Partners With Fotografiska For Major New Exhibition "Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious"

Fotografiska New York is pleased to present a new exhibition that traces hip-hop’s origins— starting in the Bronx in 1973, as a social movement by-and-for the local community of African, Latino, and Caribbean Americans—to the worldwide phenomenon it has become 50 years later. Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious amplifies the individual creatives involved in the movement while surveying interwoven focus areas such as the set of women who trailblazed amid hip-hop’s male- dominated environment; hip-hop’s regional and stylistic diversification; and the turning point when hip-hop became a billion-dollar industry that continues to mint global household names. The exhibition, which was created in partnership with Mass Appeal and is presented in collaboration with Chase Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, will debut at Fotografiska New York before traveling to several of Fotografiska’s international locations including Fotografiska Stockholm and Fotografiska Berlin.

It’s easy to forget that there was a time before hip-hop was an industry and before it made money,” said Sacha Jenkins, exhibition co-curator and Chief Creative Officer of Mass Appeal. “It wasn’t conscious of itself. It was just existing with young people living their lives, dressing as they did, trying to entertain themselves with limited resources and creating an aesthetic that registered amongst themselves. It wasn’t for the world; it was for a very specific community. Then there was an exponentially paced transition where hip-hop culture became a conscious of itself as an incredibly lucrative global export. The exhibition’s lifeblood is the period before hip-hop knew what it was.”

The exhibition brings audiences through five decades of history, culminating in recent imagery of the biggest names working in hip-hop today. The show, which features archival ephemera to augment the contextualization of its photography, is principally laid out by chronology and geography. Focus areas include but are not limited to the early years, East Coast, West Coast, the South, and the newer wave of artists who have emerged since the mid-aughts.

Mass Appeal Partners With Fotografiska For Major New Exhibition "Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious"Mass Appeal Partners With Fotografiska For Major New Exhibition "Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious"

Among other interwoven themes, the exhibition highlights geographic subcultures; East Coast/West Coast rivalries; and the role of women in hip-hop. Fifteen of the female pioneers who trailblazed in various capacities amid a male-dominated environment are included in the show: Aaliyah, Cardi B., Eve, Erykah Badu, Faith Evans, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill, Lil’ Kim, Mary J. Blige, Megan Thee Stallion, Missy Elliott, Nicki Minaj, TLC, Queen Latifah, and Salt-N-Pepa.

Mass Appeal Partners With Fotografiska For Major New Exhibition "Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious"

We made a thoughtful effort to have the presence of women accurately represented, not overtly singling them out in any way,” said Sally Berman, the exhibition’s co-curator, who among other roles has helmed photo direction for Mass Appeal and XXL. “You’ll turn a corner and there will be a stunning portrait of Eve or a rare and intimate shot of Lil’ Kim that most visitors won’t have seen before. There are far fewer women than men in hip-hop, but the ones that made their mark have an electrifying presence—just like the effect of their portraits interspersed throughout the show.”

Alongside portraiture of formative names such as DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash, documentary images of the larger cultural climate (such as the Savage Skulls street gang, graffiti writers, and block parties) capture the zeitgeist of the Bronx that permeated as the first hip-hop artists innovated the musical style itself. Examples of bodies of work in the show include Jean-Pierre Laffont’s oeuvre of early-1970s Bronx street culture, with a focus on the Savage Skulls; Henry Chalfont’s early- 1980s images of Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Downtown Manhattan, with a focus on graffiti writers, breakdancing, block parties, and youthful shenanigans; and Janette Beckman’s late-1980s to early-1990s street-style portraits of hip-hop’s living legends.

Mass Appeal Partners With Fotografiska For Major New Exhibition "Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious"

Well-represented across “Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious” are the “four elements of hip-hop” (rapping, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti) as well as several debated “fifth elements” including fashion and beatboxing. Alongside dozens of vibrant images of anonymous subjects engaged in these elements of grassroots hip-hop culture, the subjects of the photos on view in the exhibition include but are not limited to:

  • 50 Cent, Eminem, Dr. Dre
  • ASAP Rocky
  • Afrika Bambaataa
  • Beanie Sigel
  • Beastie Boys
  • Big Daddy Kane
  • Big Pun + Fat Joe
  • Biggie
  • Biggie + Tupac
  • Biz Markie + Juice Crew
  • Black Star (Mos Def + Talib Kweli)
  • Busta Rhymes
  • Cam’ron
  • Cardi B
  • Cash Money (Baby, Lil’ Wayne, Mannie Fresh, Juvenile)
  • DJ Kool Herc + Busy Bee
  • DMX
  • De La Soul
  • Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddy, Grandmaster Flash
  • Diddy
  • Digable Planets
  • Doug E Fresh
  • Dr. Dre
  • Easy E + Bone Thugz
  • Eminem
  • Erykah Badu
  • Eve
  • Fat Joe + Big Pun
  • Flavor Flav
  • Foxy Brown
  • Geto Boys
  • Ghostface + Raekwon
  • Goodie Mobb
  • Grandmaster Flash
  • Gravediggaz
  • Guru
  • Ice Cube
  • Ice-T
  • Ja Rule
  • Jadakiss
  • Jay-Z
  • Juvenile
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • LL Cool J
  • Latino Empire
  • Lauryn Hill
  • Lauryn Hill + Wyclef Jean
  • Lil’ Kim
  • Lil’ Wayne
  • Ludacris + Scarface
  • MC Lyte
  • Mac Miller
  • Marley Marl
  • Mary J. Blige
  • Masta Ace
  • Megan Thee Stallion
  • Method Man
  • Missy Elliott
  • Mobb Deep
  • Nas
  • Nicki Minaj
  • Old Dirty Bastard
  • OutKast
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Pimp C
  • Post Malone
  • Public Enemy
  • Quavo & Takeoff
  • Queen Latifah
  • Questlove
  • Run DMC
  • RZA
  • Salt-N-Pepa
  • Scarface + Ludacris
  • Schooly D + Code Money
  • Slick Rick
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Soulsonic Force
  • Takeoff + Quavo
  • The Roots
  • Three Six Mafia
  • Travis Scott
  • Tribe Called Quest
  • Trick Daddy
  • Tupac
  • Tupac + Biggie
  • Tyler, The Creator
  • Wyclef Jean + Lauryn Hill

Tracing the cultural genre’s collective trajectory over five decades, the exhibition spans photography by hip-hop’s earliest documentarians of the 1970s to younger hip-hop photographers who are furthering the proliferation of the genre’s aesthetic. Artists in the exhibition include:

  • Campbell Addy (b. 1993)
  • Charlie Ahearn (b. 1951)
  • Sam Balaban (b. 1993)
  • Janette Beckman (b. 1959)
  • Angela Boatwright (b. 1975)
  • Geoffroy de Boismenu (b. 1960)
  • Sophie Bramly (b. 1959)
  • Chris Buck (b. 1958)
  • Kenneth Cappello
  • Henry Chalfant (b. 1940)
  • Josh Cheuse (b. 1965)
  • Danny Clinch (b. 1964)
  • Brian Cross (B+) (b. 1966)
  • Joe Conzo (b. 1960)
  • David Corio (b. 1960)
  • Martha Cooper (b. 1943)
  • George DuBose (b. 1954)
  • Adama Delphine Fawundu (b. 1971)
  • Ricky Flores (b. 1961)
  • Glen E. Friedman
  • Jesse Frohman (b. 1968)
  • Paradise Gray (b. 1964)
  • Jamil GS (b. 1971)
  • Ahmed Klink (b. 1983)
  • Phil Knott (b. 1966)
  • Sue Kwon (b. 1965)
  • Jean-Pierre Laffont (b. 1935)
  • Michael Lavine (b. 1963)
  • Lisa Leone (b. 1966)
  • Jonathan Mannion (b. 1970)
  • Clay Patrick McBride (b. 1968)
  • Catherine McGann (b. 1963)
  • Mike Miller (b. 1964)
  • T. Eric Monroe (b. 1971)
  • Shawn Mortensen (1965 – 2009)
  • Estevan Oriol (b. 1966)
  • Eddie Otchere (b. 1974)
  • Ernie Paniccioli (b. 1947)
  • Ricky Powell (1961 – 2021)
  • Adrienne Raquel (b. 1990)
  • Mike Schreiber (b. 1972)
  • Jamel Shabazz (b. 1960)
  • Travis Shinn (b. 1975)
  • Piotr Sikora (b. 1967)
  • Anthony “Supreme” Thompson (b. 1984)
  • Thirstin Howl the 3rd (b. 1970)
  • Nitin Vadukul (1965 – 2018)
  • Diwang Valdez (b. 1980)
  • Sacha Waldman (b. 1971)
  • Christian Weber (b. 1971)
  • Theo Wenner (b. 1986)
  • Christian Witkin (b. 1966)

Jenkins is sure to emphasize that hip-hop has a culture – which is very much alive and flourishing – and a commercial industry that is independent of the spirit of the culture. “50 years later, hip-hop culture is something that’s still going that people around the world can relate to as a form of expression. I mean, break dancing in Korea is huge. People don’t break dance in South Bronx anymore, but in Korea it’s a big thing. Different parts of the culture took shape in different places around the world, and it’s a beautiful thing.”

“Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious” at Fotografiska New York was created in partnership with Mass Appeal and is co curated by Sacha Jenkins (Chief Creative Officer, Mass Appeal) and Sally Berman (Visuals Director, Hearst; formerly Director of Photography, Mass Appeal). In-house support comes from Amanda Hajjar (Director of Exhibitions, Fotografiska New York); Meredith Breech (Exhibitions Manager, Fotografiska New York); Johan Vikner (Director of Global Exhibitions, Fotografiska) and Pauline Benthede (VP Global Exhibitions, Fotografiska).

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