• A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
  • A Parallel Road by Amani Willett

A Parallel Road
Amani Willett

£20

This multi-layered work explores the Black experience of driving in America over the past 85 years. By picturing how it has too often been marked by fear, violence and death, A Parallel Road challenges representations of the American ideal of the road trip that have long dominated our view through artistic and literary media. Referencing the historical Negro Motorist Green Book, and layering archival and new images, it examines the question of how long the road will continue to be a site of violence and oppression for Black people in American society.

FIRST EDITION Softcover, 12.5 x 17 cm portrait, 112 pages
Hand-sewn single signature binding with buckram tape, uncut fore edge, printed wrapper
85 new photographs, archival images and digital screenshots
Publication November 2020 | ISBN: 9781999446840

NOTE: The book size is approximately 5x7in

Description

A romantic concept of ‘The Road’ has been embraced in American popular culture since the mid-20th century. Writers, artists and photographers, many inspired by revelations surrounding the Beat Generation’s legendary road trips, have long portrayed the idea of the road as a metaphorical symbol of freedom, independence and self-discovery.

Strikingly absent from this cumulative portrait is the Black American experience of the road which is often associated with fear, violence and death rather than freedom. This stark contrast is in conflict with the promise of familial fun times that the road trip afforded to white Americans.

In 1936, in response to the grave dangers faced by African American travelers, New York postman Victor Green created the Negro Motorist Green Book, a practical and necessary survival guide listing safe places where Black people could eat, sleep and find services along their journey without a dreadful fear for losing their lives. The guidebook was published annually for thirty years.

Mixing recent portraits and landscapes, digital screenshots and archival material—including pictures from Willett’s own family archive—A Parallel Road pays homage to Victor Green’s book, 84 years after it was first published, and sheds light on an experience of the road that has long been overlooked. It is produced in the same size as the original Green Book.

This nuanced and multi-layered work explores themes of history, racism, violence and Black identity in the United States, reflecting on the nation’s past and present while encouraging inclusivity and dialogue surrounding a complex and integral American story. While 54 years have passed since Green’s book ceased publication, it remains profoundly relevant in a time when the mere act of being on the road still threatens to be lethal for Black Americans.

The Author

Based in Boston, Amani Willett‘s photography is driven by conceptual ideas surrounding family, history, memory, and the social environment. His most recent book The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer, published by Overlapse, is widely treasured and acclaimed as a ‘best photobook’ released in 2017. His first monograph, Disquiet, (Damiani, 2013) – a meditation on starting a family in a time of social unrest and uncertainty in America – was selected as one of the best books of the year by PDN, Photo Eye (Todd Hido) and Conscientious (Joerg Colberg). Amani’s photographs are also featured in the books Bystander: A History of Street Photography (2017 edition, Laurence King Publishing), Street Photography Now (Thames and Hudson), New York: In Color (Abrams), and have been published widely in media including American Photography, Newsweek, Harper’s, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books. His work is held in collections such as The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Sir Elton John Photography Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Oxford University, and Harvard University. Amani completed an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts, NY in 2012.

www.amaniwillett.com

Reviews + Press

“Willett weaves a spellbinding tapestry that is alternately tender, inspiring, and horrifying.”Sara Rosen, Huck magazine

“A poignant dance between the celebratory and uplifting and the sinister.”Dolly Meieran, 10×10 Photobooks

“Small, intense and very touching, mixing archival and personal images, a story that had to be told.”Gabriela Cendoya, Collector

“A harrowing yet urgent title in a year in which the dangers posed to black people when out-and-about have been undeniable.” – Alex Merola, 1000 Words Magazine

“So important, timely and relevant.”Anne McNeill, Director & Curator Impressions Gallery, Bradford

“The book brings readers on a voyage that begins as personal and progresses into a larger political, social and media-related journey.”Kristen Gresh, Senior Curator of Photographs at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“Equal parts enlightening and enraging, Willett intrigues with portraits by turns delightful, reflective and devastating of a people who were forced into traveling a parallel road simply to partake in the pleasures afforded their white counterparts.”Elin Spring & Suzanne Révy, What Will You Remember

See more:
Open Studio with Jared Bowen, GBH TV interview (starts at 6:00 minutes)
Review in Babelia, el País (Spanish)
British Journal of Photography
What Will You Remember?
BuzzFeed feature
Humble Arts Foundation Interview with Jon Feinstein, “The American History of Driving While Black”
Boston Globe feature, “Picturing the all-American road trip (and its many hazards) for Black drivers”
Leica Blog
Huck magazine review by Sara Rosen
Real Photoshow Podcast Interview with Michael Chovan-Dalton
Lenscratch feature by Aline Smithson
PopMatters
Creative Boom feature, “Parallel Road demonstrates the inherent cracks in the American Dream”
Il Post (Italian)
The Eye of Photography

Special Notes

*Buzzfeed 10 Photo Stories That Will Challenge Your View Of The World
*Book of the Month, February 2021 – Leica Fotografie International
*1000 Words Magazine Top 10 Photobooks of 2020, Selected by Alex Merola and Tim Clark
*Lensculture Favourite Photobooks of 2020 – Selected by Kristen Gresh, Senior Curator of Photographs, Museum of Fine Arts Boston
*Favourite Photobooks of 2020 – Gabriela Cendoya, Collector
*Favourite Photobooks of 2020 – Ola Søndenå, Department of Special Collections, University of Bergen Library
*Photo-eye Favorite Photobooks of 2020 – Honourable mention by Jon Feinstein, curator
*Best Photography Books of 2020 – Elizabeth Avedon, Curator + Designer
*Favorite Photobooks of 2020 – Elin Spring & Susanne Révy, What Will You Remember
*5 Photobooks of 2020 by Olmo Gonzalez, Co-director of Fiebre Photobook Festival
*SVA Gift Guide Recommended Books, New SVA Books to Gift this Holiday Season
*Polycopies 2020 Recommended Books
*Curated selection Fiebre Photobook Festival 2020 – Gabriela Cendoya, Collector
*Curated selection Fiebre Photobook Festival 2020 – Tim Clark, Editor in Chief at 1000 Words, writer, curator and lecturer
*Curated selection Fiebre Photobook Festival 2020 – Olga Yatskevich, 10×10 Photobooks Cofounder
*Curated selection Fiebre Photobook Festival 2020 – Gonzalo Golpe, Editor & Designer

*Bestseller Photoeye Bookstore, January 2021
*Bestseller, Fiebre Fest 2020 Bookmarket

Events 2021
6 January 2021 at 5.30pm PST on Zoom – “An Evening With” Series: Featured Presentations from Notable Photographers
Amani Willett in conversation with Aline Smithson of Lenscratch

Events 2020
4 December 2020 – Book launch INSTAsalon with 10×10 Photobooks, Amani Willett live on Instagram, 6pm GMT / 1pm EST
17 October 2020 – Amani Willett in conversation with Tiffany Jones, Bitesize Bookfair by Impressions Gallery (Instagram Live)

A Parallel Road is held in the following collections:
The British Library (UK)
Cleveland Museum of Art, Ingalls Library (OH, USA)
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Eugene L Freel Library (USA)
MCLA Freel Library (MA, USA)
SUNY Sojourner Truth Library (NY, USA)