The one and only, unique and pure – just Harlem, and nothing else. The title introduces Harlem as a magical place of longing that only works and lives within, and cannot carry its characteristics to the outside world. The words do not only convey the uniqueness of this place, but also the ambiguity of the word as in sole or bottom.
The sole, meaning the streets of Harlem, is defined as the setting of the photographic staging. It is staged because a place like Harlem cannot be regarded independently from everyone’s abstract ideas about it, disregarding whether or not they have been there. That is why Harlem has to fight with and try to combine our anticipations and clichés with what is at the bottom of the streets – which, in the first place, is home.
Harlem is home for people with their own individual perspective on their district of New York. Amelie and Fuis have lived and taken photographs in Harlem for a year, talking and getting to know their models, and thus release them from their passive objective position. The models are not reduced on their remarkable exteriors, the photographers engage with them and, in interviews, give them a voice.
Everything is moving on; change is inexorable and reassures our autonomous growth of not remaining what we are or who we should be. The street as the work’s setting is used as a metaphor for the path of our lives: we follow and encounter new things along the way. Sole Harlem portrays the people and their home, their soul, and thus visualizes Harlem’s sound.