Published by La Fábrica. Photgraphs by Andrea Robbins, Max Becher.
In the popular imagination, the cowboy has long been identified as white--but at the height of the cattle-ranching period in the 19th century, more than one third of cowboys were African American. Black cowboy culture is still thriving today, but is little known to the general public. This marginalization stems from both official and unofficial segregation in competitive rodeos, as well as Hollywood’s commercially driven exclusion of black cowboys from Western genre films and television. Beginning in 2008, Andrea Robbins (born 1963) and Max Becher (born 1964) set out to photograph this history and its legacy in contemporary black cowboy culture, shooting black riding clubs, black rodeo leagues and charity events across America. In this volume, Robbins and Becher document this hidden history of the black cowboy and cowgirl and, in the process, reformulate and expand the iconography of the cowboy.
Published by The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture. Text by Maurice Berger.
This volume is the first to examine the portrait photographs of this esteemed husband-and-wife team. The artists' portraits--like their radical landscapes and city-scenes--are powerfully evocative, boldly subverting our expectations of the discipline of portraiture: Rather than capturing the visual essence of a sitter, they reveal identity to be multifarious, transitive and culturally and historically bound. They capture their subjects in ways that transform, enhance and accentuate social and cultural meaning, doing so with the full complicity and respect of the people they photograph. Robbins and Becher spend weeks living with each community they document. They immerse themselves in the stories of its citizens and history, interviewing residents, participating in their customs, photographing them at work, play and home. Most important, they allow their subjects to represent themselves--not only as they would like to been seen, but in ways that illuminate their complex humanity.