NinaJohnson

Martine Barrat An Intimate Selection

March 9th - April 9th, 2021

I’m delighted to be launching The Viewing Salon with a selection of vintage prints by Martine Barrat. Martine is an icon, a witness and an embedded participant in the personal histories of the communities which she has chosen to inhabit; predominantly Harlem and the South Bronx.

Mr. Herman Clark and Mr. Eric Williams playing dominoes all night at the Rhythm Club (Harlem), 1982, vintage gelatin silver print 16 x 20 in.

Martine moved to the United States in the mid-seventies and began taking photographs when she was gifted a Leica by a gang leader who she had been following as part of a documentary film project.

Her Eyes See God (South Bronx), c. 1980, vintage gelatin silver print, 20 x 16 in.
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Don’t have to be anyone but myself, c. 1980, vintage gelatin silver print 20 x 16 in.
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Martine has a given ability to see through the circumstantial filter that traps most of us in our ability to connect with one another. Her work speaks to an emotional, guttural connection with the subject matter, connections that go beyond her work and have, in many cases, led to life-long and life-transcending friendships.

When knowledge becomes visible, c. 1980, vintage gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 in.

This intimate grouping of prints, all shot and printed in the 1980’s invite us into moments of pleasure, joy and pain. Mostly, they were selected for their humanity, the feeling when viewing them that time is immaterial and that the more than 40 years which have passed since these images first came to light, are an imaginative distance. We can feel the radiance of youth in an exuberant smile, and the freedom of movement in dance. The subjects, not frozen in their time, but rather lifted up beyond the mortality of time through the power of photography.

Black could bring heaven to Earth without lying, c. 1980, vintage gelatin silver print, 20 x 16 in.
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Knowledge is stronger than money (Rhythm Club, Harlem), c. 1980, vintage gelatin silver print, 20 x 16 in.
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Martine Barrat, an intimate selection will remain on view, exclusively on The Viewing Room, through April 10th.

The Children of the Roman Kings on their way home (South Bronx), c. 1975, vintage gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 in.
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Michael Jackson impersonator during the march (Lennox Ave), c. 1980, vintage gelatin silver print, 20 x 16 in.
Martine Barrat

Martine Barrat lives and works in New York, NY.

Initially a dancer in Paris, she worked with Pink Floyd and Soft Machine. Her work took her to Edinburgh for the International Dance Festival, where she met La MaMa (Ellen Stewart), who went backstage to meet her. Martine was promised a ticket to New York City to dance in La MaMa’s theater. Two years later, right after the revolution in France, Martine received a ticket to New York City from La MaMa. She arrived in the city in June of 1968 and never left.

Together with a group of jazz musicians, Martine was one of the people who collectively created the Human Arts Ensemble (a name given by Charles “Bobo” Shaw). La MaMa provided them a theater to work out of where they ran video and music workshops. They also staged various street performances.

She then moved to the South Bronx and worked collaboratively on video projects with gangs for 6 years. In 1978, this work was shown at the Whitney Museum and was then taken to Italy by Bernardo Bertolucci, where it was shown many times on Italian prime time television.

Following this project, Martine made ‘Woman is Sweeter’, a film about Yves Saint Laurent featuring the music of Galt MacDermot, the Grammy award-winning composer of the musical Hair. Martine published several monographs including Do Or Die (1993), a collection of photographs that capture boxers across Harlem, the South Bronx, and Brooklyn. She also photographed celebrities like James Baldwin, Bob Marley, Martin Scorsese, Ornette Coleman, Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, Gordon Parks, V.S. Naipaul, Jean-Paul Sartre, Yasushi Inoue and Paul Auster.

Martine is currently working on films related to dance as a form of public art. In 2018, she shot a film about New York City’s subway dancers called Getting Lite which was projected at the Hip Hop Museum in Paris in 2019 and also shown at the Urban Films Festival. More recently, she made the film True Warriors about three street dancers in Paris with a unique approach to the art form.

She has exhibited at Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami, FL, as well as La Goutte d’Or Cultural Centre, Paris, France; Musée Kampa, Prague, Czech Republic; Museum of the City of New York, NY; among others. Her photographs and videos are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Museum of the City of New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, NY; the Lincoln Center Library, NY; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France; as well as many private collections.