EvidenceEvidence by Luc Sante
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Note: do not read before bed.

This astounding collection of NYC crime scene photos were discovered by Sante in a forgotten archive where they were spared the fate of others who were thrown away or dumped into the river when buildings and departments moved.

Collected here for you are postmortem photos meticulously curated by Sante, chosen by someone with a strong sense of poetry and reverence for and identification with the anonymous dead.

Sante pairs the images with whatever information he could find about the victims depicted, which is scanty at best. Also after the collection he allows himself to speculate about the dead and the America they lived and died in. He draws the reader in by challenging them and acknowledging the exploitation of their gaze, as well as musing on the nature of photography itself.

“Through the act of looking, we own these pictures, or, rather, they thrust themselves upon us… to look at these pictures is to glimpse the work of the recording angel on the day of judgement… these pictures are documentary evidence of an end we are afraid to recognize.”

This is a remarkable thing.

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