“One Shot”: Charles “Teenie” Harris and the Photographic Practice of Non-Iconicity

in Troubling Vision

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780226253022
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226253053 | DOI:
“One Shot”: Charles “Teenie” Harris and the Photographic Practice of Non-Iconicity

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This chapter investigates the work and practice of black Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris, whose work it addresses as an indexical practice that provides a counterpoint to the dominant iconic images of blacks. The photograph of Rosa Parks on the bus was central in forming the mainstream public's understanding of recent history and social change in the United States. Iconic blackness as larger-than-life image, such as Parks, Jesse Owens, and Martin Luther King Jr., and spectacular blackness are the dominant visual modes for representing black subjects and black lived experience. Harris's practice depicted black living beings as intelligible and subjects of value. He archived all of his photographic negatives to deliberate an act of preservation and also cultivated an indexical practice of recording the non-iconic. Harris generally presented a methodical, repetitive representational strategy of visualizing black subjectivity in its fleeting, multitudinous incompleteness.

Keywords: Charles Harris; Teenie; Rosa Parks; Jesse Owens; Luther King Jr; black subjectivity; non-iconic; iconic blackness

Chapter.  13846 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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