About the Photographer
American, b. 1969
For her series Evidence (2009), Angela Strassheim photographed homes where familial homicides have taken place. Strassheim extensively researched the sites before approaching current residents to ask permission to photograph the room in which the violence occurred. She wanted to be sure the residents already knew of the incidents, so that, in her words, she would not be “the bearer of bad news.” She approached approximately 140 residences across the United States, of which 18 granted her access. Before approaching the door, Strassheim photographed the exterior of the home in color. Of these exterior photographs, she exhibits only the homes that did not grant her access so as to protect the location and identity of residents who did grant access. However, she includes the murder weapons as part of the titles of the images of home exteriors, whereas she titled the interior photographs of crime scenes generically with numbers.
To render the remnants of blood visible, Strassheim uses a chemiluminescent spray that activates the remaining proteins on surfaces, even after they have been thoroughly cleaned and repainted. She previously learned to use chemiluminescent sprays while working in the field for the Miami Forensic Imaging Bureau. Using only ambient light for an initial exposure to show the room—followed by a second exposure of her film for as long as ten minutes to one hour to capture the glow created by the spray--her photographs record the physical presence of blood as garish, glowing stains. The resulting images create an eerie portrayal of past violent actions in a cozy domestic space. The inclusion in the series of both the color exterior photographs and the interior crime scenes underscores the disconnection between banal and seemingly benign surfaces and the histories they may contain.
Angela Strassheim completed a BFA in Media Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, MN (1995), and an MFA in Photography at Yale University, New Haven, CT (2003). She also completed certification in Biomedical and Forensic Imaging at the Miami-Dade County Forensic Imaging Bureau, Miami, FL (1997). Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Whitney Biennial, NY (2006); the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel (2006, 2009); the Monterey Museum of Art, CA (solo, 2008); and Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles, France (solo, 2008). Her work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; the Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; and the Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, CT, among others. Strassheim is the recipient of several awards, including the Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, St. Paul, MN (2006); the McKnight Foundation Photography Fellowship, Minneapolis, MN (2006); and the MCAD/Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists, Minneapolis, MN (2005). Monographs include Angela Strassheim: Left Behind (2007), and a Monterrey Museum of Art exhibition catalog entitled Angela Strassheim (2008). She lives and works in New York, NY.
Gallery Talk: Angela Strassheim discusses her work and process in conjunction with Crime Unseen exhibition at the MoCP