To Pivot Lightly: Adding the Vernacular to Art History's Sight Line
The introduction offers beginning insights into the work of photographer James Van Der Zee and its relationship to the discourses of vernacular photography and art history. The chapter also considers the limitations of framing the photographer within the years of the Harlem Renaissance era and the advantages of gaining a more comprehensive understanding of Van Der Zee's practice. The introduction insists that an engagement with Van Der Zee's photography requires an approach that pivots back and forth between the kinds of questions art history wants to ask and those that vernacular photography elicits. With such nimble movement in mind, the introduction outlines how the book traces the arc of Van Der Zee's work chronologically to illuminate how the multifaceted uses and registers of photography reveal the quotidian as a central idiom of African diasporic photographic practice.