Detail from "Evidence No. 10" by Angela Strassheim
Evidence remains long after a crime has been committed, often invisible to the naked eye.
In the case of domestic violence, a new family may move into a home with no knowledge of its violent history.
It's that dissonence between present appearances and past realities that photographer Angela Strassheim investigates in her recent body of work "Evidence" now on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Strassheim uses a chemical called "Blue Star" to reveal the DNA protein left behind in homes that were the scenes of domestic crimes. While the blood has been washed away, the protein often embeds itself into the walls and floors. Once sprayed with "Blue Star" the protein glows; the result is an eery, ghost-like apparition.
Evidence No. 2 (BlueStar), 2009
Coupled with the black and white images is a series of exterior shots in color. In full daylight Strassheim photographs what appear to be ordinary, middle-to-upper-class homes. Only the titles reveals the building's gruesome past... titles like "small rod, kitchen knife" and ".357 caliber revolver." Viewers are left to wonder what exactly happened inside.
Evidence, (small rod, kitchen knife), 2009
MIA Curator David Little says he chose Strassheim for the latest insallment of the museum's intimate "New photographs" series because of her exploration of two photographic traditions:
She's looking at this long tradition of both death, and photojournalism, and how photojournalists investigated real life crime scenes in their pictures. I'm interested in how she takes cues from both high art and regular old detective work, and combines them.
Little says Strassheim is part of a new generation of photographers who, rather than simply depicting a scene to accompany a reporter story, are actually conducting their own investigations, and telling the story through the camera lens.
Evidence, (.357 caliber revolver), 2009
Little says there's an obsessive quality to Strassheim's work, and he's impressed with how she manages to treat what is a provocative topic - the crime scene - with a detached, respectful eye.
It's such a difficult subject to take pictures of without being exploitative or sensational - but I think she does a really good job of keeping a distance, somewhere between a documentary image and an art image. You could install this in a way that would heighten the sensationalism, could have had it all black or dramatic lighting. But I like the inclusion of the color. Color on the outside, black and white on the inside.
Evidence No. 10, 2009
Little says Strassheim's images (there are only ten of them in the "Evidence" show) manage to starkly convey the everday quality of murder and violence in the United States.
Baby pictures on top of the wall where the murder happened - these spaces continue to function - but these traces of history are always there. How common and mundane and unnoticeable these places are. When you look at these places, they look like everyday homes you would see anywhere. And that's the truth of these images, - these crimes happen places you wouldn't expect, and we never know the details.
"Evidence" runs through October 9 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Strassheim, who used to work as a forensic photographer in order to support her more artistic pursuits, talks about her process in this video from the MIA:
James Armstrong is the author of Blue Lash, a collection of poems that examines the power and allure of Lake Superior. The book is divided into three parts: "North of Duluth," "Isle Royale," and "South Shore." Author Louis Jenkins wrote of Armstrong's work: "These poems have the handcrafted precision of a wooden skiff built by a master boatbuilder, rugged and durable yet light, quick, and capable of covering great distances." Armstrong is currently a professor of English at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota.
I'm thinking about your
coiled hose and muddy trowel.
You like the way the bean sprouts lift
their swan necks above the crumbled soil,
the way the squash blossoms
open their saffron cotillions.
It's like the way, when you talk to horses
their ears swivel, delicate periscopes,
and their humid gaze turns in your direction.
So much power, welded to gentleness,
so much gentleness, welded to power -
little insistent threads of seedlings
a single frost might blacken.
By midsummer, they are a solid wall.
- "Kentucky Wonders" in Blue Lash by James Armstrong (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2006). Copyright © 2006 by James Armstrong. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.
Posted at 7:33 AM on April 11, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: News and reviews
Treehouse Records, Uptown Bulldog threatened by Lyndale Ave fire
A basement fire broke out beneath the Lyndale Grocery & Deli after midnight on Sunday night, drawing Uptown residents out onto the streets to gawk and worry over the well-being of the grocery store and its neighboring businesses -- the Bulldog restaurant and bar, plus Treehouse Records, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary.
- Andrea Swensson, City Pages
Review: Bach's B Minor Mass needs no adornment
VocalEssence's thrilling reading was paired with filmmaker Bastian Cleve's life's work, a mixed blessing
WILLIAM RANDALL BEARD , Star Tribune
Dom at the 7th Street Entry: So sexy
On the basis of everything I believe in, I should loathe Dom. They thrive on a steady diet of acid while on tour. The guitarist thrusts his axe in the air whilst soloing, all the better to show nasty hos who's boss. Their leader, the eponymous Dom, doesn't share his last name with anyone, thus creating a whole "media persona" that helps them sell records. Dom wears a goddamn trucker hat while on stage. Inside, my moral standing is cringing.
- Alex Gaterud, TC Daily Planet
Ultramodern recording Local pop-punk duo is first known to have created an album on the iPad
When Apple released an iPad-based version of its GarageBand music-authoring software last month, it was only a matter of time before a band recorded an album using the app's on-screen instruments. "Underwear Party" is, apparently, that album.
- Julio Ojeda-Zapata, Pioneer Press
Theater review: Jungle's 'Next Fall' is much more than a comedy
There are times early in "Next Fall" when you might think that you're viewing a live-action sitcom full of stock characters and repartee designed to elicit belly laughs. But stick with Geoffrey Nauffts' play and you'll find it takes you to much deeper places.
- Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
Lamb Lays With Lion spit "Feminine Venom" at Nick and Eddie
Feminine Venom is one of the season's funniest little shows: both funny-peculiar and funny-ha-ha.
- Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet
It sounds too good to be true - all your favorite local bands, playing twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
89.3 The Current (also known in the MPR newsroom as "those hipsters upstairs") has announced it will launch "Local Current Music Stream" on April 14.
The 24-hour stream will be dedicated entirely to local music, new and old.
"The Local Current music stream is another way we can share the music and culture of Minnesota with the world," says program director Jim McGuinn. "We are excited to offer the best local music 24/7."
Of course, 89.3 The Current's stream already does expose the world to quite a bit of Minnesota music. I was on vacation in New Zealand last year, and had an animated conversation with a "Kiwi" about Atmosphere and P.O.S. - he streamed The Current on his computer.
I've put in call to McGuinn to see if he'll divulge what the first song will be on the new stream... back in 2005 89.3 The Current launched with "Shhh" by Atmosphere.
The Local Current music stream is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund
Starting Thursdays, listeners can tune in to the Local Current music stream at thecurrent.org/local.