[AFRICAN-AMERICANA - VERNACULAR PHOTOGRAPHS]. Small collection of 7 original photographs of African-Americans (six were taken in the street, the other on a hard-scrabble beach)
s.l. (Pittsburgh?): 1940s (?). 7 glossy black and white prints on paper (3 3/16 x 4 1/2 inches), on versos the paper numbered M001, M220, and M349. Some general wear (creasing from handling, soiling on versos, one small tear). Good. Item #3870
ODD, CLAUSTROPHOBIC INNER-CITY VERNACULAR PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE 1940s. Depicted here are unnamed African-American neighbors (and probably relatives) assembled on brick streets against brick-walled houses. At least three of the photos were taken on the same street corner. A well-dressed man stands in front of a grocery store; one very young woman smokes; behind a wide-eyed girl wearing glasses and too-large sandals hangs laundry; another woman sits in a shadowy alley; three girls pose against a brick wall which exhibits faint graffiti, behind them a contraption of some kind appears in the darkness for no reason; a stone step worn and sunken supports the feet of two boys in a doorway: on the sidewalk in front of them falls the shadow of the amateur photographer, his fedora visible in the flawed negative. The photographer's subjects are often strangely positioned to one side; he has decapitated 1.5 heads; he has made the children squint and scowl uncomfortably; one woman smiles at the camera, a bag of trash on the ground at her feet, while her companion stares into a window. The several ghostly flaws to the negatives remove the viewer even further away from these lost moments. But not every photograph is claustrophobic: there is one of a forgotten family-outing at a hard-scrabble beach, with radio towers and industry looming vaguely in the background. But we all know that the outing will be brief, that they must soon return to the inner-city, where perhaps there will live out the end of their days. The photographs were discovered in Pittsburgh and it is very possible that they were all taken there. At present we have only the emulsion and paper and thoughts of Temps Perdus.