Photographer Rahim Fortune focuses his work on sacred spaces that are often thought of as cultural celebrations.
One of those spaces is the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show, a twice-yearly show where contestants from all over come to showcase their skills when it comes to styling Black hair.
In normal years the show brings 30,000 attendees to Atlanta.
Fortune, who alternates his time between Texas and New York, traveled to Atlanta to experience the show in February 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic upended normal life.
The show’s theme that year was “fantasy.”
For Fortune, there were initially two layers of tradition surrounding the photography project: the photographic tradition of capturing Black spaces, as well as the cultural and hair tradition involved.
In many ways, hair shows like the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show reveal what it’s like to be a part of Black culture. They let young people feel invited into Black spaces.
Once Fortune arrived in Atlanta, however, his focus was steered in another direction.
“What I found that really resonated with me was the sense of Black entrepreneurship in the space,” he says. “There was an element of economic empowerment that also exists in the ways the show functions.”
A large part of the hair show involves teaching young people the skills necessary to be successful in the hair industry….