A new outdoor exhibition, B+ The West is Awake (from one West Coast to Another), has opened at Galway City Museum as part of this year’s Galway International Arts Festival, Visual Arts Programme. In the following blog we learn more about the work of Brian Cross (B+) in the words of rapper-singer-poet, Denise Chaila.
“Yeah in saloons we drink Boone’s and battle goons till high noon
Bust rap toons on flat spoons, take no shorts like poon poon’s
See hoochies pop coochies, for Gucci’s and Lucci
Find me in my Mitsubishi, eatin’ sushi, bumpin’ Fugees.”
Lauryn Hill, Fu-Gee-La
Photos develop over time, even after they’ve been printed, and these ones don’t just archive albums and artists, they are memories of relations built with each of these people, some over many years. These are not sterile sets produced by unseen hands and the faceless demands of calculating companies, they are questions asked with a camera charting through lines between hip hop, jazz, samba, cumbia and reggae close enough to touch, sacred enough that we know what not to.
In the hands of B+, these pictures are memorials, statements, moments of exhaustion on the precipice of an album release, still moments of adrenaline before a show, photos made crouched in basements watching people alchemize the first hopeful notes of the music we celebrate them for today. Learning about per-diems while people fight in the parking lot. Some of these photos are eulogies, others anthems.
This is De La Soul’s presidential candidate photoshoot, cosplaying in suits with superman costumes pressed to their hearts against the backdrop of election fever in 1996. Lauryn Hill, three days from giving birth being photographed in the attic of her childhood home while her mother massages her arms. Yasiin Bey pictured in silhouette during the silence at sundown with the sun setting on the American empire after a day spent waiting for him on the stoop of his apartment. Dreams and relationships and music, done the way Mochilla always does it; make photos of what you see, bring only what you can carry in your backpack.
And the lens of a camera, pointed not to capture and shoot, but to see.
This photo essay celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of Hiphop and was curated specifically for this space.
Denise Chaila, 2023