Heirlooms and accessories


Kerry James Marshall


Photography, 3 x (144.7 x 137.7 cm).
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, NY, and Koplin Del Rio, CA.

Marshall based his Heirlooms and Accessories (2002) on a widely circulated photo from 1930. It shows a white crowd at the lynching of two black men in Marion, Indiana. Marshall digitally re-works the photograph, rendering it fuzzy (in a process called ‘ghosting’). He sets the photos of three women from the crowd in lockets with chains, giving a double meaning to the word ‘accessories’. These women looked to the camera. By focusing on the three women instead of the black victims of the lynching, Marshall transforms the commemorative function of the original documentary photograph. Here he gives this violent act form in a wry sort of heirloom or memento, passing down both the history of the event as well as three ‘accessories’ to it.

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