Without a Leg to Stand On

Farihah Aliyah Shah

June 30 – September 18
Opening Reception:
Thursday, July 7 from 5:30-7:00pm

Exhibition installation image

In Without a Leg to Stand On, Farihah Aliyah Shah presents a collection of work that speaks to a history of photography in relation to Black bodies. During the early 1950s, as colour film stock became accessible to middle class families, Kodak photo labs all over the world used Shirley Cards—portraits of white female models, sometimes wearing pearls or fine gloves — to calibrate their machinery for skin tone, shadows and lighting during printing. Enforcing a false standard of beauty, the widespread use of this calibration device produced grey and inhuman looking photographs of Black people and those of the global majority.

Using still images, video and embroidery, the exhibition reveals a hierarchy of subjects within photography at the beginning of colour film stock popularity, and the lack of representation of disenfranchised bodies that endures within the photographic canon today.