What Matters Most
Photographs of Black Life
Curated by Sophie Hackett/Art Gallery Ontario
Published by Delmonico Books/D.A.P.
What Matters Most: Photographs of Black Life highlights a selection of photographs of African American family life between the 1970s and the early 2000s—pictures that were lost by their original owners and then found by the artist Zun Lee on a street in Detroit in 2012.
These vivid images chronicling milestones and quiet daily moments highlight the role snapshots have played in Black life, as tools to challenge stereotypical portrayals and as a means to memorialize family, culture, and heritage.
The placement of the Polaroids on each page generates discussion, imagination, and connection through similarities in colors, gestures, and places. The design allows for open interpretation; giving the reader a chance to to make their own associations. The size of the publication offers a more personal and intimate experience; inspired by looking through family archives and photographs. While the book itself has a flow and rhythm to it, readers are encouraged to dig into their intuition as they flip through the pages. The layouts of interspersed Polaroids offer several entries into the book: moments of immersive full bleed images, a messy collection on a countertop, polaroids that line up to the grid, and images that speak to the adjacent poems become an interlude of reflection between texts.