Dead bodies in your living room

by Kelvin Smith

Dark Fields of the Republic is an exhibition of Alexander Gardner’s photographs of the US Civil War now showing in Washington.  The old issue of authenticity has once again been raised, but equally interesting are attempts to explain the impact of photography to twenty-first century visitors.

“It’s not like they would hang them on the wall and say look at these beautiful images of death. They had collections of these images, but it was more like surfing the internet and looking at newspapers.”

[The Guardian quoting Bibiana Obler from George Washington University]

Antietam, Md. Confederate dead by a fence on the Hagerstown road. Photograph from the main eastern theater of the war, Battle of Antietam, September-October 1862.

Confederate dead by a fence on the Hagerstown road. Battle of Antietam, September-October 1862.