In this piece (full image below), four copies of an old 1960’s style television were combined to make a wall with each of the individual screens containing an image of a young black man. The men pictured, clockwise from the top left, are Jonathan Ferrell, Oscar Grant the III, and John Crawford the III. While both Ferrell and Grant were smiling and facing a friend or family member in the original photographs they now show those relaxed, open expressions to both the bystanders and the viewer. In the 3rd TV only Crawford’s eyes are visible and he appears to be questioning or wary of his observers and in the bottom left TV screen, barely visible at all, shielded from the view of the art viewer but not from the view of the bystanders, is Michael Brown.
Jonathan Ferrell was killed in 2014 by police while seeking help after a traffic accident. Oscar Grant, III was killed by a transit police officer in California in 2009 and the movie Fruitvale Station (2013) is about the last day of Grant’s life. John Crawford the 3rd was killed in 2014 by police officer in an Ohio Walmart as he held a toy BB gun and talked on his cell phone. Also in 2014 Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in the town of Ferguson, Missouri and his body was left in the street on full view for 4 hours. His death, the lack of respect for his dead body combined with already strained relations between the black citizens of Ferguson and the town’s police department resulted in several days of protests.
[Each man’s life, death, and the aftermath of the shootings can be found on Wikipedia and each pages contains multiple references listing the original sources of the information and, in most cases, links to the original sources.]
The bystanders themselves are a well-dressed group of anonymous white people. The original photograph from the 1940’s (taken by H. Hollem, E. Meyer, or MacLaugharie and found in the Prints and Photography Online Catalog of the Library of Congress) shows the collection of people standing still on a city street corner while watching a news ticker containing war updates. A copy of the original was cropped, stylized with photography software, and then the background was removed and replaced with the TV wall containing the photographs of the 4 young men killed by police.
Logan, Trace. The Bystanders (2016), personal collection.