These selections are part of a life-long project titled [sur]passing, a series of larger than life-size color portraits that probe the impact skin pigmentation and plays on black identity and consciousness. Primarily due to the melanin count of their skin, opportunities for light and dark-skinned blacks can differ enormously ranging from overt favoritism to extreme alienation. Kobena Mercer coins this process as a “pigmentocracy,” based on skin-tone.

The models in this series are shot with a large format (4”x5”) camera from towering urban vantage points, highlighting “the regeneration of a new inner-city culture,” as Flash calls it. They appear divine, larger than the purposely out-of-focus buildings of the London, New York and South African skylines, which appear in contrast to the sharp, crisp rendering of each subject. As the series’ title suggests, these subjects represent a fresh pride and fierceness, they are beyond “passing.”


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About Lola Flash

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A fixture in the New York City art scene, Lola Flash uses photography to challenge stereotypes and offer new ways of seeing that often transcend and interrogate gender, sexual and racial norms. Her earlier works give viewers emotional and chaotic glimpses of New York City and Provincetown during the height of the AIDS crisis from the deeply personal perspective of Flash, who documented this moment while protesting alongside her comrades as a member of critical activist groups such as ACT UP.

In these works, Flash’s cross-color processing in the darkroom has reversed the colors captured in the found world. This technical choice became a powerful statement for Flash: as a queer black woman, artist and advocate, Flash did not see herself represented or reflected back at her through contemporary advertising, visual culture or the art historical canon. By employing cross-color techniques the artist is able to reverse colors in her world: people turn from white to black and vice versa; blue skies turn violent blood orange. Unbalancing the visual world allows the photographer to provoke a dialog on race and biases. This decision – to startle the eye; to pull a viewer out of her assumptions – is replicated throughout Flash’s entire body of work, as viewers are given a near voyeuristic glimpse into cultures that are overt and true, counter and authentic, pure and rare. Our barriers are challenged, our perceptions shifted. Cast in surprising colors, we seem to see the soul of her subjects.

Finding new ways to utilize the medium and the processes of photography to capture her vision in service of larger social issues is the foundation of who Lola Flash is as an artist. This is perhaps best seen in her most recent work as a portrait photographer, from which she creates multiple series: “[sur]passing,” “surmise,” and “SALT.” With her portraits, each taken with a 4x5 film camera, Flash acts as a documentarian, capturing and recording the personal identity of those who are often deemed invisible. Flash’s camera imposes a sense of comprehensive formalism to her portraits, engaging viewers and adding to the intimacy of the private moments captured by her lens. It is in these moments that Flash gives her subjects an uninterrupted platform, and her viewers have the unique opportunity to see the world through Flash’s perspective and that of her subjects. In doing this, Flash combats the homogenization of cultural values and captures the individuality and even majesty of her subjects in the vein of Gordon Parks and Anthony Barboza. Her ability to merge this vision with the pop culture aesthetic of Richard Avedon and a high formalist style that is reminiscent of Henri Cartier-Bresson results in the significant, beautiful portrayals of humanity that make up Flash’s work to date.

Flash received her bachelor’s degree from Maryland Institute and her Masters from London College of Printing, in the UK. In 2008, she participated in Light Work’s esteemed Artist-in-Residence program. Most recently, Flash was awarded an Art Matters grant, which allowed her to further pursue two projects in Brazil and London. Flash’s work is part of important public and private collections around the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

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Kindly note the earliest shipment date is March 17, 2018.

Shigi, NYC (from the [sur]passing series), 2008
Lot Number 23
Archival chromogenic print
24 x 20 in (60.96 x 50.8 cm)
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Lola Flash
Shigi, NYC (from the [sur]passing series)
  • Dimensions
    24 x 20 in (60.96 x 50.8 cm)