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“Taken: Photography and Death”

The Tartt Gallery

The visual arts have long been used to delay the finality of death by keeping a deceased subject “alive,” suspended in human memory as if between two worlds. Photography’s ability to provide a unique sense of the presence of the subject has created a peculiar bond between that medium and death. This exhibition of more than 70 photographs from the mid 19th century to the present not only underscores the extent to which photography has been involved with death, but also provides an opportunity to see how photographic modes are imbued, consciously and unconsciously, with conventions and values relating to status, religion, and esthetics.

As the accompanying catalogue notes, the word “taken” is commonly used in reference to both photography and death. This notion that both the living subject and the photograph are “taken” from life gives to the photographic presence a factuality rivaling that

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