The "LAPD Archives" exhibition debuted at fototeka gallery in September, 2001 and has since traveled to the following venues:
April 25 - 27, 2014 -
Paris Photo Los Angeles
- Paramount Pictures Studios
- Los Angeles, CA USA
March 7 - April 24, 2012 - MAMM (Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow) - Moscow, Russia
June 1 - August 6, 2006 - NRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft - Düsseldorf, Germany
July 15 - September 18, 2005 - Kunsthaus Museum - Zurich, Switzerland
July - October, 2003 - Yerba Buena Center for the Arts - San Francisco, CA
July - August, 2002 - North Dakota Museum of Art - Grand Forks, ND
March - May, 2002 - Duke University Museum of Art - Durham, NC
"To Protect and Serve: The LAPD Archives" was created and organized by fototeka gallery owner/director Robin Blackman and photographer Merrick Morton in collaboration with the Los Angeles Police Department and the City of Los Angeles. The exhibition was co-curated by Tim Wride, associate curator of photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The exhibition was the first public showing ever mounted from these rare archives. Many of the images come from the renowned Scientific Investigations Division (SID) - the nation's oldest crime lab, dating from the 1920's. Photographic materials from SID had never before been made available outside official police circles.
Recognizable in the black-and-white archive prints is a world that inspired many Los Angeles crime-fiction writers including Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy. The images come from the days when criminals (the men, at least) wore jackets and ties. Days of Chandler dialog such as, "Are you a prizefighter?" "Not exactly, I'm a sleuth." Often we find a surprising sense of innocence and formality. And sometimes a sense of the surreal oozes out of an ambiguous theatricality.
Two selections in the exhibit show elaborately staged crime scenes used originally for training purposes, but which now look like still-lifes. In a 1953 photograph, a woman in an evening dress and pearls lies "dead." She is surrounded by clues which lie on the ground in a loose circle around her: camera, carving knife, purse, trunk, gloves, frying pan, overturned vase with flowers, hat, a length of rope, and a bound volume with gold-tipped pages.
In many ways, policing is - or should be - the antithesis of theater, a profession that deals with reality at its grimmest, trying always to penetrate appearance to the truth beneath. In these photographs, the very nature of the subject - the LAPD documenting its own methods and values - adds a layer of complexity to the images and to the region's history.