Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography

JoAnn Verburg. Still Life with Serial Killers

JoAnn Verburg. Still Life with Serial Killers. 1991

Chromogenic color print, 19 9/16 x 27 11/16" (49.7 x 70.4 cm). Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel. © 2018 JoAnn Verburg

Artist, JoAnn Verburg: One day I went to the market in Spoleto, Italy, where my husband and I spent every summer and my flowers were wrapped up in a newspaper that I brought home and realized had a photograph of the serial killers, Charlie Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer, and an article in Italian that asked why these things happen in America. I knew immediately that I wanted to incorporate it into a photograph. And in our bedroom, I had leaned some jumbo postcards from the Courtauld Museum in London on the dresser.

Although the photograph could have a lot of traditional still life elements in it, you know, the bottle or the fruit, or the flowers, I like the fact that an aspect of the still life work that I'm able to bring in is the news that's going on in another part of the world.

In my still lives, bringing in the newspaper allows me to connect these things that might seem very disparate, a fragment of a painting by a French painter from another century, put together with a news article about murder. But in fact, the nature of our contemporary lives is that we're flipping the channels all the time. We're experiencing so many things at once, and we're not able to selectively engage only one thing at a time.

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