A revealing new exhibition in Los Angeles is set to feature black and white photos from real crime scenes between 1925 and the 1970s, taken by police officers who worked for LAPD.
The exhibition comes as a result of Fototeka founder Merrick Morton receiving access to Los Angeles’ records department, and the entire photo archive that comes with it. Morton is himself a photographer and LAPD reserve officer. Upon gaining access to the cardboard crates held within the City Records Center in downtown LA, he found some decomposing cellulose nitrate negatives.
Morton and his team launched an effort to save the photos, after the fire department recommended the negatives be destroyed due to posing a fire hazard. Shipped the salvageable boxes to a cold storage facility, the Fototeka team then working their way through the archives, storing the unseen photos everyday dimestore #10 white letter envelopes, which had been cut in half and sealed.
The earliest photographs in the collection date to 1925. The film used was large-format (4″x5″) cellulose nitrate until sometime in the early forties when it was replaced with safety film. In the early sixties, the size changed to medium-format (2-1/4″x2-1/4″) which was used until the mid-seventies when it was, in turn, replaced with 35mm.
The new exhibition will be titled “The Art of the Archive: Photographs from the Los Angeles Police Archive,” and is put on by House of Lucie and Fototeka.
The photos are crime-scene photographs, shot […] by Los Angeles police officers in the line of duty — as evidence. Through curation and presentation in a gallery setting, they achieve a secondary purpose, offering a real-life window in a world familiar to most present-day viewers through film noir.
All photos: LAPD/Fototeka.
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