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Agence VU - Jeffrey Silverthorne
Jeffrey Silverthorne

Represented by Gallery VU'

Jeffrey Silverthorne explores the question of sex and death, as well as the notions of boundary and transgression. Active since the end of the 60’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.

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Travel Plans (2011)

Ses premières photographies datent de 1970 à la morgue de Rhode Island. Elles répondent à l'affirmation de Diane Arbus assurant, lors d'une de leurs rencontres, qu'il n'y avait rien là à photographier. S'ensuivent plusieurs séries dont le style n'est pas sans rappeler celle-là même qui est une des seules photographes dont il revendique une certaine influence. Les mises en scène apparaissent dès le début des années 80 avec la série Silent Fires où il joue avec le mythe d'Orphée et Eurydice. À partir de là, il passe du style documentaire – séries Missing, Tex-Mex – à une suite de mises en scènes, de photomontages, de collages reprenant notamment de nombreuses...

Boystown, The Perfume of Desire, USA (2009)

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,...

Recent Works (2009)

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 artist’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.


Portraits et Figures

"Quand je pense à ce livre, je me dis que j'ai évolué, que j'ai changé mes méthodes de travail pour finalement revenir à mes anciennes prises de vue. Mais je ne suis pas la même personne qu'il y a quelques années ! Avec Portraits & Figures je réfléchis vraiment à la façon dont une image peut découler d'une autre, le séquençage me semble très important... et en photographiant je n'ai presque jamais pensé à cela ou à la façon dont ce que je photographie pourrait se rapporter à d'autres aspects de mon travail."

Jeffrey Silverthorne

Publisher: Editions de l'Oeil (2013)
68 pages
Size: 24,7 x 17,6 cm  

Travel Plans

Si vous voulez savoir quelque chose sur quelqu’un, la première étape aujourd’hui est de se tourner vers le net. Là, vous constaterez que l’on connait principalement Jeffrey Silverthorne pour ses images de mort et ses nus. La connaissance peut-elle être si simple, honnête et directe ? Ne devrait-il pas y avoir autre chose à savoir sur quelqu’un qui a créé une œuvre couvrant plus de quarante de sa vie ? Et si vous deviez vous engager dans une exploration de la mortalité... Iriez-vous chercher les réponses à vos questions existentielles dans une morgue, ou un bordel, ou un studio ? Probablement pas. Mais cet homme, oui. Avez-vous jamais envisagé de tels plans de voyage ? Quelle chance que quelques uns agissent selon leur curiosité et partagent l’ennui qu’ils éprouvent à devoir lire les guides de vie, comme leur difficulté et leur refus de suivre les suggestions qu’ils y trouvent... Ils s’avancent, essayant de saisir ce qui n’est pas là. Si vous deviez trouver saine votre curiosité, quoique parfois déplacée, ne voudriez-vous pas que vos réponses soient simples, honnêtes et directes ?
Text by: Jeffrey Silverthorne

Publisher: Editions de l'Oeil (2011)
96 pages
Size: 24 x 29 cm  

Boystown, The Perfume of Desire

The Boystown series reveals the artist’s taste for the atmospheres that convey «the texture, the smell, the temperature of the places». 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 series’ 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

Directions for leaving

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)  


Travel Plans (Paris)
From 2011-09-09 to 2011-10-29

Comment présenter l'oeuvre de Jeffrey Silverthorne qui se révèle ici, pour la première fois, dans toute sa complexité? Privilégiant la lecture transversale d'un parcours qui retrace 40 années de photographie et autant d'années de questionnements, il a pris le risque d'une exposition qui ne repose aucunement sur une construction chronologique ou sérielle mais sur notre capacité à découvrir un langage qui, tout en s'inspirant des formes photographiques existantes, les transgresse.\rUtilisant tous les usages possibles que la photographie permet, jusqu'aux collages et aux...

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Photo Month - The Seventies. The impact of American Photography (Paris)
From 2008-10-29 to 2009-01-25

In 1971, an exhibition entitled « New Photography USA » was organised at the Bibliothèque 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 « humanist » 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...

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Jeffrey Silverthorne (Arles)
From 2008-07-08 to 2008-09-14

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...

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