Monday, September 27, 2010
Dead Scilence at Ampersand
Please join Ampersand for the opening of our new show, Dead Silence : 1930s Morgue Photography.
Free drinks courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing Co.
Our October show features a selection of 16 vintage morgue photographs taken by one R. Magnus, a photographer working in Hoboken, New
Jersey in the 1930s. Adopted as a general term in 1880s America, morgue replaced the coarser, though perhaps more direct, dead house, to
describe the location where the bodies of unidentified persons or those that died of violence were kept before being released for burial. Etymolo-
gically, morgue is a nuanced word, deriving its meaning from the French morguer, which denoted a place where new prisoners were held so
that jailers could become familiar with their looks for future identification. At its most basic, morgeur means haughtiness, to look at solemnly, to
defy. It’s this idea of haughtiness, of posing & posturing, of declaring your existence, of placing yourself in front of an onlooker, whether that be
a prison guard or a portrait photographer, that resonates so sublimely in these photographs. Rather, it’s the absence of such posturing that is so
mesmerizing. Less about the nuances of violence & crime in an age that paralleled Weegee's street photographs, Dead Silence focuses instead
on a singular kind of portrait photography in which the sitter no longer has the ability to declare that he is.
Hope to see you.
Ampersand - Gallery & Bookshop
2916 NE Alberta Street, Suite B