October 4th, 2011
I’ve just finished installing a new exhibition at the museum where I work, and I think it’s the best we’ve ever done! A handful of 19th century spirit photographs (invented in 1861 by William Mumler, who claims to have photographed his dead brother while sitting for a self-portrait) are paired with breathtaking modern photography that “channels the past” by Sally Mann, John Dugdale, Hal Hirshorn, and RA Friedman. The 19th-century photos are from the collections of Thomas Harris and The Burns Archive*.
I am in love with every single piece of art in the show, not to mention the old spirit photographs. I am having a grand time wandering down to the gallery every few hours, just to gaze at them. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the photographs from Hal Hirshorn’s salt print series “The Death & Funeral of Seabury Tredwell:”
Hard to believe this was taken in August 2011! It’s posed in the New York City Marble Cemetery, where Seabury Tredwell (who died in 1865) was interred for 6 months. The photograph, and nine others in the series, are even more evocative in person. The works by Mann, Dugdale, and Friedman are not to be missed either.
And yes, that is me wiping my eye over the coffin. One of the best things about getting involved in curating art exhibits in NYC is that you sometimes get invited to model for a real live artist! I’ll let the other models — all of whom are talented artists and performers in their own right — retain their anonymity.
*I’ve curated two shows in collaboration with The Burns Archive, which is one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited, and an incredibly important collection of 19th century photography. Memento Mori: The Birth and Resurrection of Postmortem Photography and New York’s Civil War Soldiers: Photographs of R.B. Bontecou & Words of Walt Whitman are the titles of the shows, in case you feel like looking them up.