A new exhibition tracing 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– is set to open at Fotografiska in New York City this week.
Hip Hop: Conscious, Unconscious amplifies the individual creatives involved in the movement while exploring focus areas such as the women who blazed new trails 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.
In highlighting the women pivotal to the growth of the world’s most popular music genre, more than 20 of the female pioneers who opened doors in various capacities included in the show, such as Cardi B, Eve, Erykah Badu, Faith Evans, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill, Lil’ Kim, Mary J. Blige, Megan Thee Stallion, Missy Elliott, Nicki Minaj, Queen Latifah, and Salt-N-Pepa.
“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, in a news release. “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.”
The photos on view, of which there are more than 200, span a sleek 2022 editorial shoot of Megan Thee Stallion to an alluring video of Salt-N-Pepa shot in street style on the Lower East Side in 1986. There’s also an early-career photo of Nicki Minaj at a Brooklyn diner in 2008; an imagine of Eve’s iconic 2001 Vibe cover shoot where she flaunts her signature paw-print chest tattoo; a fresh-faced Mary J. Blige snapped at a record label’s office in 1991; Lauryn Hill with Wyclef Jean on a Harlem rooftop working on the Fugees’ debut album, and Faith Evans with Biggie Smalls and Puff Daddy at the 1995 Source Awards.
Co-curated by Sacha Jenkins (who came of age in New York’s Hip-Hop scene of the 1980s) and Berman, Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious will debut at Fotografiska in New York from January 26– May 21, 2023 before traveling internationally.