40 Years. An Exhibition of Hip Hop Portraits

Janette Beckman, Charlie Ahearn, Nabil Elderkin, Jonathan Mannion, Ernie Paniccioli, Jamel Shabazz, Steve Carty, Che Kothari, Matt Barnes, Mike Schreiber, Estevan Oriol


1974: 40 years ago. Civil war in Ethiopia has broken out. The crew of Skylab 4 return to Earth after 84 days in orbit. The Rubik’s Cube is invented. Muhammad Ali knocks out George Foreman in the most recognized boxing match in history. And in the South Bronx, New York, a movement of epic proportions is born.

Hip Hop has evolved from a voice for the voiceless to a dominant global youth culture occupying mainstream media and generating billion dollar revenues. It has been co-opted by corporations and used for personal gains while acting as the primary galvanizing tool in the fight against oppression and in community-building movements around the world.

This exhibition explores a sliver of the evolution of this cultural phenomenon through large-scale photographic prints, focusing on North American Hip Hop culture and the popular figure of the emcee. Images of the youthful and rebellious street cultures that informed Hip Hop’s essence and style are included, along with a collection of iconic portraits of its legendary and most commercially successful figures. Featuring photographs by Jamel Shabazz, Ernie Paniccioli, Jonathan Mannion, Nabil Elderkin, Che Kothari, Matt Barnes, and Steve Carty, among others.

Curated by Che Kothari and Ryan Paterson