Throughout the twentieth century, Harlem has been regarded as a beacon of African-American history and culture. Sites such as the Apollo Theater, Abyssinian Baptist Church, and Malcolm X Corner at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue serve as popular postcard images that represent significant places and moments in this community. Today, Harlem continues to evolve as a center of history and culture. Everyday, changes are witnessed by its residents and experienced by tourists and visitors from all over the world.

Harlem Postcards, an ongoing project, invites contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds to reflect on Harlem as a site of cultural activity, political vitality, visual stimuli, artistic contemplation and creative production. Representing intimate and dynamic perspectives of Harlem, the images reflect each artist’s oeuvre with an idiosyncratic snapshot taken of, or representing, this historic locale. Each photograph has been reproduced as a limited-edition postcard available free to visitors. This season we are pleased to feature postcard images created by Sanford Biggers, Tiara Hernandez, Hew Locke and Ginger Brooks Takahashi.

Frontpage Order: 

Ginger Brooks Takahashi

She was married to a white woman
Gladys Bentley, 1907–1960
, 2010

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GB meets GB
Looking for traces of queer histories in Harlem, I stumbled upon the men's bathhouse, tales of speakeasies such as the Clam House (where gender-bending performers were the norm) and finally Gladys Bentley. She immediately caught my eye—a black woman in a tux. The year was 1920-something. The Clam House was on 133rd Street between Lenox and Seventh avenues. Gladys was writing and singing obscene versions of popular songs there.

Born 1977, Huntington, WV
Lives and works in New York, NY

Sanford Biggers

142nd St. Mosaic, 2010

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On the way from the studio, from below I saw above.

Born 1970, Los Angeles, CA Lives and works in New York, NY

Tiara Hernandez

Intriguingly Impetuous, 2010

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I made this image on February 14—Valentine’s Day. My godmother and I were in a cab on 103rd Street driving along West End Avenue to 34th Street. I was aiming my camera out the window, catching buildings, streetlights, billboards—anything you might see from a car in Harlem. When the cab suddenly came to a stop—as yellow cabs often do—I accidently snapped a shot of the inside of the cab. When editing my work, I realized the pictures I took inside the taxi were pretty decent, so I decided to submit this one for Harlem Postcards.

Expanding the Walls participant, born 1994
High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry

Hew Locke

Triffids, 2010

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I am particularly fascinated by Harlem's hand-painted signs. This image was taken from a diner on 125th Street. The sheet of plywood is a quick repair job and the flowers are painted onto the window. I wanted to turn a simple reflected scene of people waiting for a bus into something strange and magical, something happening below the surface.

Born 1959, Edinburgh, UK

Lives and works in London, UK