Jeffrey Silverthorne explores the question of sex and death, as well as the notions of boundary and transgression. Active since the end of the 60â€™s, he has been accumulating series on extreme subjects: a slaughter house, a morgue, brothels or a community of transvestites and transexuals.
His works are not out of voyeurism. Rather, Silverthorne seeks a way to further expose himself, to become more vulnerable so as to dive deeper into his own psychology, once stating, "I make images to remember, not the purpose, but my own feelings and reactions." Hence his lack of interest for an objective photography that would translate nothing of the intensity of the experience and, on the contrary, his liking for subjective documentaries and structured images shaped as plastic experiments and stage productions.
The land along the Texas-Mexico border, a borderland, is a place for a psychological or physical passage/transgression.
A Boystown is a group of bars or clubs that gringos and some Mexicans go to for entertainment, and or to have sex with a prostitute, usually a woman, sometimes a female impersonator. I did not see an openly gay or lesbian club, though I saw gays and lesbians. Boystowns are located on the Mexican side of the border, and traditionally are physically and medically much safer than having sex with a
prostitute working on the US side.
To understand a Boystown it is necessary to appreciate that in the
borderland there are a number of divides; geographic, economic,...
Between portraits of women and assumed photographic set up, the work of Jeffrey Silverthorne brings us permanently in an atmosphere of grotesque limits.
Silverthorne shows her aging body in unusual situations, sometimes dubious, with young women sometimes with hair in curlers. The weirdness, if not bizarre, of these set up and portraits is reinforced by the artistâ€™s own symbolic approach.
Sweet situations meet the sensitivity that comes from portraits. We are constantly transported between a troubled world by its strangeness and the pleasantness, and by the fragility of these women that could break into pieces at any moment.
The Boystown series reveals the artistâ€™s taste for the atmospheres that convey Â«the texture, the smell, the temperature of the placesÂ». Associating black and white and color photographs, Boystown deals at once with the Mexicans who venture across the American border and with the prostitutes of Nuevo Laredo. The seriesâ€™ coherency stays in the spirit of the photographer who has cast upon it his taste for the notions of boundaries and transgression. Text by: Anne Biroleau-Lemagny et Jon Hendricks Publisher: Lars Schwander (2009) 90 pages
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Over the past thirty-five years Jeffrey Silverthorne has photographed authority figures, nudes, protitutes ready for business, prisoners, illegals immigrants, border bars and cheap hotel rooms, carnival denizens, people in the fringe worlds of American society, moribund animals, himself and the dead. He is internationally known for the post-mortem genre he pioneered, photographs of the dead that shocked and repelled even as they fascinated. Several of those photographs have achieved wide fame, as "Woman Who Died in Her Sleep", showing a lithe young woman in a provocative pose, a slight smile as though about to awake to a lover; but she lies on a morgue table and the sensuality of the pose is belied by the coarse black stitches of the infamous Y-incision. Text by: Annie Proulx Publisher: Fotografisk Center (2007)
In 1971, an exhibition entitled Â« New Photography USA Â» was organised at the BibliothĂ¨que Nationale; borrowed from the MOMA (New York), it was devoted to young and little-known American photographers. Their works broke with photography as it was conceived in Europe, and with the Â« humanist Â» trend that prevailed at that time. Then, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, and many others emerged from obscurity. Each of them initiated in a personal way unique developments in the art of photography, making the most of its many possibilities without any a priori thoughts. Far from...
An American artist little known in Europe, Jeffrey Silverthorne has for nearly forty years been considering the body and its representation. His photography, whether in black-and-white or colour, borrows from both documentary and staging techniques with a fluent, exuberant feel for investigation. He tirelessly explores the particular way in which photography can play at once with reality and fiction.In his photographs of dead people at the morgue, the Female Impersonators, or in his other portraits, he indeed borrows from documentary formalism; he sees himself as a witness. But like Diane...