Dear visitors! For technical reasons, meeting with the organizers of the «Weeks of Conscience» postponed to  indefinite period. We apologize.

The Art of the Archive. Photographs from the Archives of the Los Angeles Police Department

Unknown.
Close up of bullet holes in car window Atty. Murder. 
10.10.1942.
Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles Unknown.
Medium shot of man standing in front of back porch aiming gun to his head.
02.10.1942.
Gelatin silver print. 
Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles Unknown.
Auto Motorcycle and boy on bike, learning hand turning signals.
00.10.1963.
Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles Babbit.
Front view of female from waist up seated wearing coat and arms are folded. Bandaged right brow.
26.07.1947.
Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles Unknown.
Woman officers practice at shooting range-Fire arms inspection-Girls with Guns. 
08.10.1968.
Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles R. Rittenhouse.
Bridge over LA River. Dead body in river bridge above Detectives officer and car to the side.
17.02.1955.
Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles Driver.
Bootleg Raid. 3 Detectives on bootleg bust 2 coming out of the hole in the ground.
25.10.1929. 
Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles Munns.
768 S. Vermont.
Dead body in tiled hall way officers holding up sheet in back ground.
23.07.1932.
Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

Unknown. Close up of bullet holes in car window Atty. Murder. 10.10.1942. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

Unknown. Medium shot of man standing in front of back porch aiming gun to his head. 02.10.1942. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

Unknown. Auto Motorcycle and boy on bike, learning hand turning signals. 00.10.1963. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

Babbit. Front view of female from waist up seated wearing coat and arms are folded. Bandaged right brow. 26.07.1947. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

Unknown. Woman officers practice at shooting range-Fire arms inspection-Girls with Guns. 08.10.1968. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

R. Rittenhouse. Bridge over LA River. Dead body in river bridge above Detectives officer and car to the side. 17.02.1955. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

Driver. Bootleg Raid. 3 Detectives on bootleg bust 2 coming out of the hole in the ground. 25.10.1929. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

Munns. 768 S. Vermont. Dead body in tiled hall way officers holding up sheet in back ground. 23.07.1932. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fototeka Los Angeles

Moscow, 7.03.2012—24.04.2012

exhibition is over

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Exhibition organized by Museum «Moscow House of Photography and made possible through the cooperation of Fototeka, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Police Department. Curated by Tobia Bezzola, Robin Blackman and Merrick Morton.

Photography has long been an essential tool for law-enforcement investigators. Police archives therefore contain a rich variety of photographic images. They not only provide identification (mug shots, fingerprints) and evidence (scenes of crimes and accidents) but also serve the purposes of surveillance and demonstration (re-enactments, court exhibits) as well as of public relations or police training.

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Exhibition organized by Museum «Moscow House of Photography and made possible through the cooperation of Fototeka, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Police Department. Curated by Tobia Bezzola, Robin Blackman and Merrick Morton.

Photography has long been an essential tool for law-enforcement investigators. Police archives therefore contain a rich variety of photographic images. They not only provide identification (mug shots, fingerprints) and evidence (scenes of crimes and accidents) but also serve the purposes of surveillance and demonstration (re-enactments, court exhibits) as well as of public relations or police training.

As we know, photographic images can easily migrate from their original context to a new and entirely different one and they are in this process subject to a shift of meaning. But why is it that among perhaps million photographs in the Archives of the Los Angeles Police Department one finds a particularly high number of images that lend themselves to such a transfer of meaning — from document to composition, from evidence to work of art? Certainly one reason is that they show us scenes from the most mediated town in the world, «unviewable save through the fictive scrim of its mythologizers» (Michael Sorkin). And, in such a highly image-conscious city, the photographers working for the Police Department must have been more aware of the aesthetic quality of their work than they would anywhere else. And the police themselves were certainly not unaware of or unresponsive to the image that the city’s film and television industries created of them.

Today these historic photographs from the Archives of the LAPD no longer serve as documentation of specific criminal acts (save for a few celebrity cases). But we can discover in these archives not only stills from one long imaginary film noir but also images that stand comparison with the best of twentieth-century documentary photography (if not for the inscription on the negative many could easily be mistaken for works by Walker Evans or Helen Levitt) or even with staged works of art- photography by Surrealists of the 1930s (Brassaï, Boiffard) or again with late twentieth-century conceptualism. And it should not be rashly assumed that these extraordinary pictures came to life fortuitously, naively and without any artistic purpose. Maybe one day the pantheon of twentieth-century American photography shall be enhanced by the addition of as yet unfamiliar and unexplored authors with such names as Hoewner, Driver and Munns.

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