Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good
I Can Make You Feel Good
Hardcover, 241 x 318 mm, 206 pages
€50 / £45.00
Tyler Mitchell (b. 1995, United States) works across various genres to explore and celebrate a new aesthetic of Blackness.
Mitchell’s love for images was sparked years ago, growing up in the Atlanta suburbs. Back then, he started to film and photograph his skater friends. Being a ‘YouTube generation kid’ he learned how to film and edit online. Via Tumbler, Mitchell would often come across photographs of attractive young models, looking careless and free. He immediately felty inspired. However, he rarely saw such kind of images portraying Black people. Since then, his entire body of work focuses on pushing back against that lack of representation.
The publication consists of full-size image spreads with a frequent pattern of placing a portrait on one page and a colourful close-up on the other page. The constructed reality, full of bright vibrant colours appears to be filled with infinite possibilities. Indeed, the medium of photography allows the artist to dream and to create a utopia, free of racial prejudice that still shapes our contemporary world.
The radiant colours of garments and backdrops all enhance Mitchell’s message about the beauty of the Black body. The work encompasses a mix of documentary reportage, portraiture, fashion photography, art photography and filmmaking. Some of the images are shot spontaneously, while others appear to be more prepared and designed. However, all of the work emanates with purity and intimacy and regardless of the style, the people captured though Mitchell’s lens consistently appear free and expressive, joyous yet sensitive.
Occasionally, though, his portraits include symbols in the form of water guns or plastic resin chains. Those elements are a subtle reminder of the ways in which the Black body is still politicized. That is, being too often unable to move freely with the same carelessness as when being white.
The book opens with a diaristic entry by Tyler Mitchell. As explained by himself, I Can Make You Feel Good is to be understood as a declaration, “gut-punching in its optimism”. The book furthermore includes four extensive written contributions: by Mirjam Kooiman (Curator at Foam Photography Museum Amsterdam), Isolde Brielmaier (independent curator and writer), Deborah Willis (contemporary African-American artist, author and curator) and Hans Ulrich Obrist (art curator).
‘I Can Make You Feel Good’ was published on the occasion of a solo exhibition of the same title, organised at the International Center of Photography in New York (2019).