Arts & Culture » Arts

In the Galleries -William E. Jones: Killed Through April 28 at the Saint Louis Art Museum



The latest installment of SLAM's New Media Series, this rapid-fire 2009 video by Los Angeles-based artist William E. Jones stitches together still black-and-white photographs rejected from the Depression-era Farm Security Administration documentary project. Roy E. Stryker, who oversaw the FSA project, literally spiked images not up to his idiosyncratic standards — by punching holes through the negatives. Jones' video, a bracing 104-second loop, links select rejects by aligning Stryker's holes. The black void, frayed at the edges, waxes and wanes over the video's swift course like a dilating pupil, the culled images' sole constant. The violence of Stryker's curated vision for impoverished rural America remains viscerally apparent, but the subtleties of the "killed" photos are lost amid the video's furious pace. An accompanying book on display in an adjacent gallery does more justice to Jones' efforts. Here the punctured archival images the artist exhumed breathe with elusive elegance, narrating a more nuanced tale about historic omissions. The photos are accompanied by an essay in which Jones enlarges upon his quest for "perversity" in our whitewashed past: Initially motivated to find a queer history of America, he uncovered many other unseen national portraits — of minorities, the aged, vernacular architecture and more ambiguous moments in life — that defy propagandistic reduction. Through April 28 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive (in Forest Park); 314-721-0072 or Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.).

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