Dawoud Bey with Siddhartha Mitter: Elegy

Wed. Feb 21, 2024 7:00pm - 8:00pm EST
  • Reserve
  • Details
Event Stats
Event Description

The photographer discusses his searches for “the unseen Black presence” among the landscapes of the United States.

Book Cover of ElegyIn-person registration for this event has sold out, but livestream tickets are still available. A limited number of standby tickets will be available on the night of the event.

Dawoud Bey is perhaps best recognized for his street photography and portraiture. But over the past decade his projects have focused instead on landscapes across the country, searching for early Black presences and historical memories embedded in our geography. Bey’s new book, Elegy, unites those projects in one volume. Bey takes viewers to the historic Richmond Slave Trail in Virginia, where Africans were marched onto auction blocks; to the plantations of Louisiana, where they labored; and along the last stages of the Underground Railroad in Ohio, where fugitives sought self-emancipation.

Bey speaks about retelling history through photography with New York Times writer Siddhartha Mitter.

To join the event in person | Doors will open 30 minutes before the program begins. For LIVE from NYPL events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment; we will do our best to accommodate everyone. Booked seats that have not been claimed will be released shortly before start time, and seats may become available then. A standby line will form 30 minutes before the program.

To join the livestream | A livestream of this event will be available on the NYPL event page. To receive an email reminder shortly in advance of the event, please be sure to register! If you encounter any issues, please join us on NYPL's YouTube channel.


Dawoud Bey headshotDawoud Bey (born in New York, 1953) has for decades made groundbreaking and evocative work about the histories of Black communities. His numerous honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. A major career retrospective of his work, An American Project, was co-organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2020–22). Bey holds a master of fine arts degree from Yale University School of Art and is currently a professor of art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago, where he has taught since 1998. His books include Class Pictures (Aperture, 2007), Seeing Deeply (2018), Dawoud Bey on Photographing People and Communities (Aperture, 2019), and Street Portraits (2021).

Siddhartha Mitter headshotSiddhartha Mitter is a freelance writer and critic. He is interested in contemporary art and civic practices locally, nationally, and internationally, including in the American South and on the African continent. His work appears most frequently in The New York Times, and he has contributed to many other publications within and beyond the art field.


Don't have a New York Public Library card? Get one here!

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or suspect you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, please stay home.


In-Person | Assistive listening devices and/or hearing loops are available at the venue. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation or CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) captioning service by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template. This venue is fully accessible to wheelchairs. 

Livestream | Captions and a transcript will be provided. Media used over the course of the conversation will be accompanied by alt text and/or audio description. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.



For questions and inquiries, please email publicprograms@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.

Please submit all press inquiries to Sara Beth Joren at least 48 hours before the event: email sarabethjoren@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.

The New York Public Library's free services and resources are made possible thanks to the support of the Friends of the Library. Join this group of Library lovers and take advantage of special membership benefits, like invitations to members-only virtual events, discounts at the Library Shop, and more. Join now.

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund, and the support of Library patrons and friends.

Dawoud Bey © Frank Ishman
Siddhartha Mitter © Tom Saater

Reserve Tickets
Sorry, this event has already taken place.
Venue Details
Map of Venue Location.
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Celeste Bartos Forum 476 5th Ave
New York, NY 10018