Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice
Krista Thompson is Weinberg College Board of Visitors Professor and Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. She is the author of An Eye for the Tropics: Tourism, Photography, and Framing the Caribbean Picturesque, also published by Duke University Press.
Shine, Shimmer, and Splendor: African Diasporic Aesthetics and the Art of Being Seen in the Bahamas
2015. "Shine, Shimmer, and Splendor: African Diasporic Aesthetics and the Art of Being Seen in the Bahamas", Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice, Krista A. Thompson
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This chapter examines a popular local practice in the Bahamas in which performing for the camera is central: proms. Here, young people stage elaborate entrances projected onto screens within the prom venue. Young people, influenced by hip-hop and dancehall culture, perform their own visibility in these entrances through the effect of light, flash, generated through photography. One famed prom entrance dating from 2004 featured a young woman who orchestrated faux paparazzi to line the red carpet for the event. She did not hire the photographers to produce photographs (and in fact she did not retain a single photograph of the entrance), but instead to highlight her own visibility and representability. Such prom practices draw on and reconfigure other diasporic cultures, global manifestations of hip-hop, local masquerade traditions, and global spectacles of celebrity.