THE ANCESTRAL LIGHT SERIES AND COMMUNION VESSELS FOR AFRICATOWN
NEW WORK BY TONY BINGHAM, 2022
In 2012, Bingham spent a week with a family in Africatown. While there, he began making connections and capturing pinhole images of the people and sites. The house he stayed in served as a make shift darkroom and film changing space for his cameras. He visited the fishing holes, graveyards, archeologic sites, creeks and churches. The work was almost incidental, Bingham was primarily on a journey without an outcome in mind, and stumbled into a body of work that begins to document the rich history of a profoundly important place, that few seemed to know of at the time.
Since then the publishing of Zora Neale Hurston’s interviews with Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis (c. 1841 – July 17, 1935), and subsequent unearthing of the Clotilde have pulled Bingham back to Africatown. In 2021 Bingham began returning to the places, and stories that he has carried with him in the decade since the first photograph. Ten years after his first encounter, and with all thats happened (and not happened) for the historic Africatown community, Bingham’s work endeavors to document a deeply rooted history and felt sense of place for and with the community members that first welcomed him, both living and passed. Through a series of photographs using cameras constructed from the discarded plantation lumber of the Klein Wallace house, a stop-motion animation film, and cast metal “communion vessel” sculptures, Ancestral Light Series reaches toward remembering and re-membering that which was, into that which is.
Ancestral Light Series was on view at Alabama Contemporary Art Center April 8, 2022 - July 23, 2022.