Book Review: D'Angelo Lovell Williams


By Jess T. Dugan   |   June 25, 2018

 

D’Angelo Lovell Williams   /   Self-published, self-titled zine with unique handwritten text   /   Softcover   /   Edition of 100, signed and numbered   /   2018

D’Angelo Lovell Williams earned his MFA in Art Photography from Syracuse University in 2018. He is a photo-based artist who graduated with a BFA in Fine Art Photography from Memphis College of Art. His work has been featured in Newspaper Magazine, Strange Fire Collective, The Ones We Love, It’s Nice That, and VICE. D'Angelo has exhibited at Higher Pictures gallery in New York, NY, Yale University Art Gallery, The Pingyao International Photography Festival in Pingyao, China, Black Box gallery in Portland, Oregon and The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado. He received an SPE student portfolio award at the 2015 national Society for Photographic Education conference. D'Angelo received an honorable mention, from Stanley Wolukau Wanambwa, in The Trouble With Flesh, work by Syracuse University MFA in Art Photography Candidates.


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In contrast to the more polished nature of larger trade books, there is an organic quality about zines. In their often simple, handmade construction, there is a kind of urgency and spontaneity that sometimes gets slowly sifted out through a longer editing process. Because of their DIY nature, zines have long been used by communities that are otherwise denied traditional publishing opportunities, often to share necessary information quickly: at their core, they are designed to communicate and to connect. 

D’Angelo Lovell Williams’ self-titled zine is imbued with this sense of urgency. It includes eleven self-portraits, performative in nature and formal in aesthetic, exploring ideas of queerness, gender, sexuality, race, and identity. Williams lets us into his most intimate desires and uses his own body to “assert visibility and vulnerability, insisting on an alternative pictorial and societal narrative in which Blackness and queerness are dominant, authorial voices,” as the press release for his 2017 solo exhibition at Higher Pictures in New York explains.

Made in an edition of 100, each zine contains different handwritten texts. The text in my copy feels simultaneously edited and stream of consciousness; there are areas where Williams crossed out words in favor of others, but this crossing out feels less like a correction than an intentional shift in the narrative.

The inside of the back cover reads:

The first time I stuck something up my ass I was 12. Surprise. It was a toothbrush. Then two years later I found my mom’s dildo. That didn’t end well. Long before that though I knew I was gay. There is no particular reasons for the way I am. I do know what encouraged me to embrace all that I am. Images of men. Black men. My mother was my image of a Black woman, not all Black women, but a Black woman. I always had a habit of wanting what I didn’t have. I got that from my mother. In many ways I’m just like her. My father would agree. He thinks she is the reason I am the way I am. I don’t believe in God but I believe I know whatever made me didn’t make no mistake.

These texts are a wonderful addition, both because they allow a glimpse into Williams’ more intimate life and also because they render each zine unique, making the viewer want to see multiple copies to gain additional insight into the photographs and into Williams’ biography.

Visit Dashwood Books to order.