Baldwin Lee

Baldwin Lee

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Hunters Point Press, 2022. Second printing.
Hardcover, unpaged, b/w illustrated, 108 x 114 mm. Photographs by Baldwin Lee. Text by Casey Gerald. Interview by Jessica Bell Brown.

Shortlisted for the 2022 Aperture Paris-Photo Photobook of the Year Award

In 1983, Baldwin Lee (b. 1951) left his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, with his 4 × 5 view camera and set out on the first of a series of road trips to photograph the American South. The subject of his pictures were Black Americans: at home, at work, and at play, in the street, and among nature. This project would consume Lee—a first-generation Chinese American—for the remainder of that decade, and it would forever transform his perception of his country, its people, and himself. The resulting archive from this seven-year period contains nearly ten thousand black-and-white negatives. This monograph, *Baldwin Lee*, presents a selection of eighty-eight images edited by the photographer Barney Kulok, accompanied by an interview with Lee by the curator Jessica Bell Brown and an essay by the writer Casey Gerald. Arriving almost four decades after Lee began his journey, this publication reveals the artist’s unique commitment to picturing life in America and, in turn, one of the most piercing and poignant bodies of work of its time.

"The warmth and soulfulness of his work is not the result of intellectual effort; it’s grounded in understanding, a combination of intensity and restraint, and, surely, a shared sense of otherness."
- Vince Aletti, Photograph Magazine

"I suspect that few are aware of the accomplishments of Baldwin Lee, who, photographing in the South 30 years ago, produced a body of work that is among the most remarkable in American photography of the past half century."
- Mark Steinmetz, Time Magazine

"Baldwin’s work is amongst the most moving work of its time. I am sorry to have been so ignorant to have not known of it. Blessed to know it now…"
- Judith Joy Ross

"... Walker Evans was one of Lee’s teachers. Like Evans, Lee has a sensitive eye for both poverty and dignity. But Lee’s southern exposure wasn’t overwhelmingly white, as it was in Evans’s classic "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." Quite the contrary, Lee is a witness to those at the bottom of U.S. stratification, and their refusal to swallow that status. ...The work is political, because it exposes the violence of poverty inherited from the plantation-economy past. But it is most of all attentiveness to the composure of his subjects that is echoed masterfully in the composition of his shots. ...We are a motley assortment of people in the United States. Our relations are not tidy, not in their beauty, nor in their disastrous disaffection and cruelty. "
- Imani Perry, The Atlantic


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