Friday, May 12, 2006

The Picture Gallery :: Rogues Gallery


Buried deep in the shadowy underbelly of picture-sharing community Flickr, true treasures lie awaiting the assiduous researcher. Least Wanted, alias Mark Michaelson, collects police mugshots and line-up photographs. He has assembled an archive of some thousands of mostly Americans who have come a cropper with the law. He has scanned them and made reasonable-sized copies available to download. Of course there's also a book -- 'LEAST WANTED A century of American Mugshots' -- but more of that presently.

These pictures encapsulate a whole world of pain.

Drab, dull-eyed, stricken, defiant, hopeless, unceasing, split-lip broken-head other person pain. mmmmmmmm.....

But pain by itself is not enough! Our ever-conscientious researchers have managed to extract additional information from the appropriate authorities -- and they have edited it for your convenience.
“Punks, sneaks, mooks and miscreants. Hookers, stooges, grifters and goons. These are the Least Wanted. Men and women. Elderly and adolescent. Rich and poor. Mostly poor.

These photographs are part of a collection of over 10,000 American criminal mugshots ranging from the 1870s to the 1960s gathered by Mark Michaelson.

Least Wanted is a poetic encyclopedia of discarded portraits set free from the steel file drawers of police departments and prisons. Created as utilitarian instruments, they survive as extraordinary visual artifacts: bored, sheepish, proud, coy, tough, defiant, bounced, bloodied, bruised, broken and innocent (until proven guilty) faces that stare back at the camera with unmistakable individuality. This is central casting for the late-late show of a profoundly unvarnished reality. Small timers. Fallen through the cracks.

These images, meant to be destroyed when obsolete, are remnants of an bygone era of hard-copy originals, physical photographs, often accompanied by municipal ephemera, attached to cards and documents. Typewritten and rubber stamped. Measured and fingerprinted. Documented and classified. A century of American social history, filed and forgotten — until now.

Least Wanted is a person, a portrait, an trace, a crime, a clue, a moment, an expression, a frame, a mustache, a mother, a father, son and daughter. It's evidence, documentation. A record of a person and a story that history isn't interested in.”

‘Least Wanted: A Century of American Mugshots’ edited, introduced and co-designed by Mark Michaelson, Co-published by Steven Kasher Gallery

Least Wanted Photostream >>
Ledger set >>
Steven Kasher Gallery >>
www.leastwanted.net >>

News to hand:
Our colleague< a Mr Farnsworth, at Tripe Soup has tracked down British Rogue's Gallery >>

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