You probably know photographer Dana Lixenberg’s work, but there’s a good chance you had no idea that your eyes were feasting on photos of iconic rappers and other celebrities that Lixenberg composed. There’s that classic image of the Notorious B.I.G. counting his stacks in a Coogi sweater. There’s that foreboding portrait of Tupac Shakur, head arrogantly cocked and wrapped in a bandana, staring into her lens with a defiant, yet vulnerable gaze. Lixenberg’s camera captured many of hip hop culture’s legendary figures, some of which are no longer with us, but live on through the music they left behind. If you let the streets tell it, she was there.
The 52 year old Dutch auteur cemented her name in the world of photography not only by documenting some of rap music’s highly regarded luminaries, but by also taking her camera into the fringes of our society and compassionately documenting the plight of urban living in America. Lixenberg has recently been acknowledge for her astounding photographic work in this area, having been awarded the coveted Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.
She has recently released a plethora of images in a series called Imperial Courts 1993-2015, that she captured over a 22-year span while documenting one of the oldest public housing communities in Los Angeles. A project that began just after the smoke of the LA riots settled, Lixenberg was then on assignment for Dutch publication Vrij Nederland, to document the reconstruction of the torn city. This work eventually evolved into a multi-layered endeavor that produced a book of portraits, an exhibition and a web series entitled Imperial Courts. Take the time to digest some of the images she so deftly captured. Her work is robust with grace, compassion and raw urban emotion.