Saturday, March 29, 2014

The British Guardian: "Shocking Images from America's Race War"

Gregory Fried, a professor at Boston's Suffolk University, has published an on-line exhibit of antique photographs, "Mirror of Race",  that deal with the subject of race in America.  Fried and his co-founder, musician and storyteller Derek Burrows, intend the site to be used as a teaching tool, and for that reason they encourage people to look at a photograph and decide what they think they see before clicking on several layers of information about each photograph. A few of the antique images in the exhibit are ones that Greg Fried scanned from my collection.

Some of these photographs from 19th century America are indeed shocking, bizarre and confusing.  It's often very difficult to imagine what the images MEANT to the photographer, to the people in the photos and to those who collected these photographs.

Yesterday (March 28) the British Guardian published some of the photographs from" The Mirror of Race". Among them was was my antique hand-colored glass slide of the famous image of "The Scourged Back"--used by abolitionists to illustrate the brutality of slavery-- as well as one of my cartes-de-visite of the "white slave children" from New Orleans--also taken by abolitionists to incite anti-slavery emotion.

The Guardian also published a blog post by art critic Jonathan Jones, who wrote that he was shocked, uncomfortable and bewildered by some of the photos."This is not the America of Abraham Lincoln, but that of Edgar Allan Poe -- weird and macabre.  There are so many questions in this archive of discomfiting images.  Its a spooky old mine of horrors."

 If you want to read Jonathan Jones' reaction and see more of these bizarre and disturbing images, click here.

Below is the Guardian's article.

Shocking images from America's race war – in pictures

A new project uses vintage photography to explore race in US history. From mock lynch mobs to Ku Klux Klan members and people in 'blackface', here are some of the most astonishing – and disturbing – images from America in the 1800s


A carte de visite of an amateur theatrical group presenting a mock lynching, c1880
A carte de visite of an amateur theatrical group presenting a mock lynching, c1880, by WG Thuss, Emil Kollein and Otto Giers (Nashville, Tennessee). Collection: Greg French 
A hand coloured glass slide copy of a carte de visite from 1863
A hand-coloured glass slide copy of a carte de visite from 1863 titled 'The Scourged Back', by McPherson and Oliver (New Orleans). Collection: Joan Gage
A carte de visite of anonymous men in Ku Klux Klan uniforms, 1868.
A carte de visite of anonymous men in Ku Klux Klan uniforms, 1868, by Robinson and Murphy (Huntsville, Alabama). Collection: Greg French
A carte de visite with the words
A carte de visite with the words 'Oh! How I Love the Old Flag! – Rebecca: A Slave Girl from New Orleans', 1864 by Charles Paxson (New York ). Collection: Joan Gage
A tintype of four men with blacked faces, 1880s.
A tintype of four men with blacked faces, 1880s. Collection: Gregory Fried
A tintype of a girl with a black doll and a woman, c1875.
A tintype of woman and a girl with a black doll, c1875. Collection: Greg French
A daguerreotype of the abolitionist campaigner Frederick Douglass c1845.
A daguerreotype of the abolitionist campaigner Frederick Douglass, c1845. Collection: Greg French
A tintype of a group of anonymous men, 1880s.
A tintype of a group of anonymous men, 1880s. Collection: Greg French
Carte de visite inscribed with “Learning is Wealth” by Charles Paxson (New York), 1864.
Carte de visite inscribed with 'Learning Is Wealth', by Charles Paxson (New York), 1864. Collection: Greg French
A tintype of a black attendant with his face obliterated holds a white child in a studio portrait, c1870   Collection: Gregory Fried.
A tintype of a black attendant, with his face obliterated, holding a white child in a studio portrait, c1870. Collection: Gregory Fried.

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