Danforth Art Museum Photograph Essay
For many, abandoned buildings hold keys to the past. They are places frozen in time- authentic, eerie, and intriguing all in the same. Photographer and mixed media artist Samuel Quinn is one willing to break laws and trespass property in order to explore and capture these deserted wonders. In 2008, while in the South Shore driving his friend home, Quinn passed an eye-catching abandoned white house that stood lifeless in between two simple suburban homes. Two years later, in need of a new project, he traveled back to the house and began taking photographs for his portfolio A Houses Echo, which, as he describes, holds “portraits of a family who once lived in a house. A house that entangled their memories and possessions.” Two of these “portraits” are displayed in the New England Photography Biennial Exhibition at the Danforth Museum. Quinn’s 2010 works “Untitled 1” and “Untitled 5” prove that abandoned property is more than a mass of ruins; it is a record of the lives and stories of the souls that came and went. “Untitled 1” and Untitled 5” are 16 x 20 archival inkjet prints. The image “Untitled 1” shows the end of an empty hallway on the second floor of the house. A stair railing cuts through the center of the photograph and travels left, meeting the frame of a door that is barely open. The slight crack in this doorway reveals a small portion of what appears to be a flower vase on a dresser in a brightly lit room. The ceiling to the left is torn, uncovering a large area of its dark wooden frame. To the right of the unmasked portion of the ceiling, a quiet smoke detector hovers over what viewers can presume to be stairs below. Although the smoke detector is smaller in size, it remains prominent near the foreground of the picture plane. It is clear that a significant amount of paint is peeling off of the plaster ceiling, especially to the right. The focus of “Untitled 1” is on the wall facing the...
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