Jeffrey Silverthorne explores the question of sex and death, as well as the notions of transgression, transformation and transcendence. Active since the end of the 60’s, he has been accumulating series on extreme subjects: a morgue, brothels, a community of transvestites
and transsexuals. His attraction to extreme subjects is shared by other photographers of his generation. His era is indeed the one when Garry Winogrand declared that everything is photographable and when critic A.D. Coleman observed that photographers prefer repulsive images. The social and political climate – with the affirmation of a counterculture, minorities claims, revolutions for human and civil rights and the Vietnam War – is part of the explanation. As is the very direct influence from Diane Arbus. In fact it was when Arbus refused to take photographs in a morgue that Silverthorne was driven to explore the subject. With time however Jeffrey Silverthorne now casts a critical look at his generation’s fascination for extreme subjects which do not serve the interest of the image, where solely the feeling counts. Silverthorne steps outside of himself and turns to the absolute other that his subjects are for him. His is not part of a trend but increased vulnerability, deeper exploration of his own psychology, continued revelation. In 1988 Silverthorne stated: “I make pictures so I will remember, not the subject, but how I felt about it, how I responded to it.” Each series is
both a physical and a psychical experience. Given these conditions, it is easy to see Jeffrey Silverthorne’s utter disinterest in the objective photographie and on the contrary, his preference for subjective documentary and images structured in scenes and visual artistic experiments.