On the Cover: Aperture’s “Family” Issue

Liz Johnson Artur, Johnny’s wedding guests, London, 2002
Courtesy the artist

Since the early 1990s, Liz Johnson Artur has been photographing individuals of the African diaspora throughout London, Kingston, Brooklyn, and beyond, capturing moments of joy and community in a colorful, intimate style. The cover of Aperture’s Winter 2018 issue, “Family” is a collage by Johnson Artur featuring a photograph from 2002 overlaid on a page of braille text. “Johnny Sapong invited me to his wedding,” Johnson Artur told Aperture. “It was a Ghanaian–English wedding. I took my camera with me. There was a tent in the garden for the ‘official’ photographer to take formal pictures. I took this picture while the couple were getting ready for the ‘formal’ picture.”

Johnson Artur frequently collects her images into notebooks and workbooks, and sometimes incorporates these materials in the presentation of her archives, including the picture of Johnny’s weddings guests. “Many years ago, I found an Iris Murdoch novel in a charity shop,” she said. “It was printed in six large braille volumes. I have been using them ever since to put words and pictures closer together.”

The family portrait, in all of its permutations and possibilities, is about making history. Aperture’s “Family” issue, which includes photography and writing by David Armstrong, Tammy Rae Carland, Masahisa Fukase, Justine Kurland, Diana Markosian, Lynne Tillman, Stefan Ruiz, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Deborah Willis, also features a profile of Liz Johnson Artur by the London-based curator and writer Ekow Eshun. “What I do is people,” Johnson Artur said. “But it’s those people who are my neighbors.” At first, Johnson Artur didn’t see those lives represented anywhere. So, like many of the photographers in this issue, she pictured them herself. She made a world and a family of her own.

Read more in Aperture 233, “Family,” now available for pre-order.

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