new-york

Roger Deutsch, Dead People and Jews

Collective for Living Cinema

Before the widespread use of photography, painting (and, to a lesser extent, drawing and sculpture) was the means by which people recorded their appearance for both “now” and later. These documentations swelled the ranks of the portraiture genre and coupled the vanity of the present with a necrophilic regard for the future. Gloating in their jewels and fine tailoring, the dead stare out at us, highlights bouncing off the tips of their noses, peach light caressing their plump cheeks. But deterring us from our fascination with their subsequent rot and disappearance are the institutionalized esthetic strategies of painting and the formal rigor it imposes on its subjects. Morbid curiosity is submerged in the formal accomplishments of the painting itself—by the prowess of the forearm.

But with photography, all this has changed. This is not to say that photographic activity isn’t contained by

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