MANIFESTO

#63

CHANGE OF SPACE

WISH THIS WAS REAL

2024.05.31

Text by Francesca Fontanesi

Tyler Mitchell’s early influences and his immersion in skateboarding culture are reflected in images that pursue the dream of community amidst the disorders of society.

Tyler Mitchell: Wish This Was Real
C/O Berlin Foundation, Berlin
Jun 1 – Sep 5, 2024

 

 

Currently residing in Brooklyn, Tyler Mitchell was born and raised in Atlanta, where he first brought his inspirations to life. In the ninth grade, considering himself too short to play sports, Mitchell decided to buy a camera and make some skateboarding videos to upload as tutorials on YouTube. He later moved to New York to study film at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU after traveling to Cuba in 2015 with 30 rolls of film. Upon his return, he self-published El Paquete, a catalog on the youth skate culture in Havana. His passion for the works of Larry Clark and Ryan McGinley – particularly their views on that sense of youth and freedom – fueled Mitchell’s career, despite the subjects of their works being white: “I felt that was my own experience, but I didn’t see myself in the photos”. By extending his practice into different fields, Mitchell demonstrates how fashion photography can be less censorious and more akin to the beauty of everyday life.

Untitled (Blue Laundry), 2019. in the top image: Picnic, 2021.

“I hope there is an honest gaze to my photos”.

– Tyler Mitchell

C/O Berlin presents Mitchell’s first solo exhibition in Germany, covering almost ten years of his artistic practice through the New Black Vanguard, which American writer Antwaun Sargent describes as the proliferation of artistic material and images by Black photographers working in both the art and fashion worlds, contributing to a new vision of minorities and reshaping their representation. Structured into three thematic sections that follow different motifs and showcase his latest works printed on fabric and various mirrors, the exhibition encompasses Mitchell’s diverse explorations on themes of portraiture, nature, and social memory. In Lives/Liberties, Mitchell’s early influences and his immersion in skateboarding culture are reflected in images that pursue the dream of carefree living, community sense, and self-expression amidst the disorders of society, including an early video, Wish This Was Real (2015), a reflection on innocence and the political unrest in the United States. In Postcolonial/Pastoral, the paradise imagined by the Atlanta photographer is characterized by the complexities of social identity: Mitchell stages elaborate scenes in Georgia and rural New York and invites contemplation through landscapes with vibrant colors and rich symbolic references. Family/Fraternity celebrates the brotherhood and resilience of Black communities through intimate family portraits and still lifes, transforming the domestic environment into a sanctuary. At the heart of the exhibition is the display Altars/Acres, featuring mixed media photographs and sculptures by artists whose work resonates deeply with his creative lineage, such as Garrett Bradley, Rashid Johnson, Baldwin Lee, Gordon Parks, Grace Wales Bonner, and Carrie Mae Weems. This intergenerational dialogue places Mitchell’s photography within a broad spectrum of cultural experimentation and expression.

Untitled (Topanga II), 2017.

“The imaginary is incredibly important. The Black imagination is the biggest superpower we have as a group”.

– Tyler Mitchell

Motherlan Skating, 2019.

For further information co-berlin.org.

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