sequence of digital files, black and white, silent, 3 hours and 21 minutes looped, 2010, presented as a 3 screen projection
In Mathew Brady’s Studio makes use of 100 portrait photographs taken by Mathew Brady after the U. S. Civil War at his Washington, D. C. studio. Sixty of these photographs feature a Greek-style patterned fabric; forty feature an oddly shaped vase with a floral relief. It is an either-or proposition: no photograph of the 100 features both patterned fabric and vase. The left panel zooms in and out of the fabric, and the right panel zooms in and out of the vase. The middle panel includes all 100 photographs, each shot zooming slowly into the subject’s face and ending at the eye closer to the camera. The panels are all loops of different lengths, and they do not reach the point where all three began until 3 hours and 21 minutes have elapsed.
The 100 photographs, scanned from glass plate negatives in the Library of Congress, represent the political establishment of the Reconstruction era. All of the subjects are male. One of the men is black. They form a group not unlike the U. S. Senate of the 19th Century (and today). A large-scale projection, In Mathew Brady’s Studio shows the faces of political power in disorienting detail and grotesque proportion; the effect is mesmerizing.