To me, the archive is a complex site. Archives can reveal or hide, be hoarded or shared, harm or do good, tell the truth or a lie. In particular, the archive’s potential is to fill in the gaps in history, and that’s what Michael Grant’s project, Do You Want To Dance? has done for him.
This project is a collaboration between Grant and his grandfather Joseph Cambridge’s archive of family photographs. A large portion of which depicts the relationship between Grant’s grandparents beginning in the late 1950s. “Do you want to dance?,” begins a letter Michael’s grandfather Joseph wrote to his grandmother Connie in 1958, expressing his love and admiration for her.
In this project, the importance of the black family archive is evident. A transformative process that has allowed Grant to explore the innermost aspects of himself and his family.
For me, Grant’s project represents empowerment in understanding his own identity through his grandfather’s lens, investigating beauty, love, memory, and visual culture.
It’s important to note that images from the past can serve as a stand-in for what we need in the present to move towards a more clarified future and sense of being.
Michael Grant was born in Miami, FL in 1991, and currently works out of Brooklyn, NY. Grant is an artist who investigates aesthetics of blackness, class, family, relationships, and cultural diversities. Grant works across multiple mediums developing bodies of work employing photography, collage, video, sculpture, and sound design. Constantly inspired by the materiality of black culture and its expression through domestic environments, Grant is drawn to non traditional processes with the aim of showcasing a new standard. IG: @__michaelgrant
Do You Want to Dance
As I rummage through photos on my grandmother’s floor, I could hear her call out “Michael Leave My Things Alone!”
Not realizing I’ve fallen into our vast array of family photos, she calls out again and is met yet again with silence.
As The Price is Right faintly plays in the background, I could hear her storming towards my direction.
As she attempts to meet me, I embrace her. Not only am I equipped with physical representations of our past,
I’m also armed with our future and the longing for more!
“ Do You Want To Dance?” is an exploration of time, memory, identity within one’s own lineage, access, and preservation through the Black family archive. Despite the erasure and hardships generally associated with the black family archive, it still holds the place of the north star for the African American community. It Illuminates the way for ancestral connections, and guides the way for generations to come.
While exploring the real yet imaginary relationship between my grandmother and grandfather, I’ve started to uncover a broader image of what love looks like, the power of risk and reward in the context of love, and the hope that love is truly obtainable.
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
Michael Grant: Do You Want to Dance?February 27th, 2021
Raymond Thompson Jr. and Wendel White in ConversationFebruary 23rd, 2021
Covid Projects: Billy Hickey: How We WereFebruary 18th, 2021
Primal Sight: Sadie Cook and Efrem Zelony-Mindell in ConversationFebruary 13th, 2021