The Brooklyn Museum show will feature work from one of Edmonds’s best-known bodies of work, “Tribe: Act One” (2018). He earned critical acclaim for the series in 2019, when several photographs were featured in the Whitney Biennial. One portrait, AMERICAN GODS (2017), features three Black men huddled together in a pyramid, their faces gently lit and their torsos exposed. They’re clad in silky do-rags in red, green, and black—the colors of the Pan-African flag. It’s a proud yet tender visual.
The show also includes Edmonds’s photographs that picture his subjects alongside African masks and other artworks, many of which are from the Baule group of West Africa. He chooses to include these objects not just to reimagine their aesthetic potential, but to surface the “spiritual ephemera” they possess. “In a way, I’m reifying all of these objects,” Edmonds explained. “They are often put away or behind glass, and it doesn’t allow them to really have a life.” He believes deeply in the spiritual power imbued in these objects, and he regularly asks himself how he wants to use that power.