© Rosalind Fox Solomon, ‘Tears and Jazz, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1992’ in Liberty Theater (2018). Courtesy of the artist and MACK.
By Rosalind Fox Solomon
Artist: Rosalind Fox Solomon
Project: Liberty Theater
Description: Rosalind Fox Solomon’s Liberty Theater comes from a period of traveling throughout the South between the 1970’s and 1990’s, documenting the influence of discrimination from Alabama to Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Her photographs aim to isolate “competing notions of liberty” as they occur in private and public spaces, and her subjects span a wide range of characters, “from yard sale patrons to carnival goers, trophy wives, musket purveyors, picketers, preachers, and a Daughter of the Confederacy.”
The concept of Liberty Theater was inspired by Fox Solomon’s monthly trips to a market in Scottsboro, Alabama, amidst the haunting memory of the Scottsboro Boys, an infamous case in which nine young men of color were falsely accused of rape and tried by local authorities. Ultimately, all but one of the boys were convicted and sentenced to death, followed by a nearly decade-long process of appeals and retrials. Scottsboro’s market took place in the shadow of the courthouse where the Scottsboro Boys were first indicted, and Fox Solomon found a contemporary story in the objects people came to sell there, from china dolls to guns and KKK belt buckles. As a result, Fox Solomon named her project in the spirit of this dark irony, after Chattanooga’s own Liberty Theatre, which was open to “non-whites only” between 1930 and 1964.
Liberty Theater by Rosalind Fox Solomon, published by MACK in September 2018