Oct 20, 2011

REVIEW | Evidence, Marvelli Gallery New York City

Evidence No. 1, 2008, Archival pigment print, 46 x 58 inches, Angela Strassheim.

Usually when the word crime scene is mentioned images of the show CSI flash into our minds. Bloody bodies being examined, fingerprints being dusted, or blood splatter being analyzed. Once the body and scene have been fully inspected, all evidence collected and photos taken the clean up crew is brought in to make the place sparkle again. The space will be sold to a new happy family who will move into the once bloody space; (how very Halloween-esque) but the bloody evidence will always be there, unknown to the naked eye. Angela Strassheim’s photographs show the ghostly evidence using time based photographs and a blood-visualizing agent.

The gallery space in which Strassheim has shown in, in the past, Marvelli Gallery, represents around 15 artists year round. Rotating exhibits between theses artist frequently. It is a simple space; single room with white walls, where guests can have a complete 360-degree view of all works of art. This leaves the viewer nothing to look at but the photographs, in the case of Strassheim. Here is the site showing the photographs and gallery space.

Marvelli Galery exhibiting Angela Strassheim, 2009

Marvelli Galery exhibiting Angela Strassheim, 2009
Nine photographs are show in this space. They have a luminous quality being in black and white. All photographs similar in that they are a dark space with white bloodstains shining where they still linger from many years ago. When taking the photographs she wanted “the room to be seen first and then, as the viewer looks around the photograph to see the stains second.” She shows that it is not necessarily the stains that are the subject but the fact that someone is now living in the space where blood was once splattered on the walls or floor. The content is heavy but visually light on the eyes.

Evidence No. 5, 2009, Archival pigment print, 46 x 58 inches, Angela Strassheim.
When creating her photographs Strassheim does timed exposures  between 10 and 20 minutes. She then uses a chemical called Blue Star, a blood-visualizing agent (fancy CSI stuff) that allows the stains to show again. She says “DNA is always there, not necessarily the actual blood but the proteins and irons in the blood are illuminating.” The person currently inhabiting the space cannot see the stains; only once they have been photographed by this method are they visible. There are other artists photographing so called crime scenes. This website lists some of them, calling the article Crimes Unseen.

Strassheim graduated from Yale University and became a forensic photographer. She took photos of crime scenes and autopsies in Miami (go figure there is a show called CSI: Miami). This is where the theme of her exhibition, Evidence, got its inspiration. Evidence as defined in the dictionary, is something that makes plain or clear. In this case “something” is her ghastly photographs and “what is made clear” are that crimes that were committed in these spaces.  The thinking behind her exhibit is to “show spaces where the dead and the living co-exist.” Where at one time someone was killed or gravely abused, “but now someone new is living in the space and life has moved on.”

All quotes were taken from an interview video made by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts found here.

Angela Strassheim’s exhibit, Evidence, was in the Marvelli Gallery on 26th street in New York City in 2009.

-Diana Babson

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