Photographs by Mark Morrisroe. Edited by Beatrix Ruf, Thomas Seelig.
Text by Stuart Comer, Elisabeth Lebovici,
Fionn Meade, Linda Yablonsky.
JRP|Ringier, 2011. 516 pp., 420 color illustrations, 8x10¼".
A luminous comet shooting across the late 70s
constellation of photographers and artists that
included Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Jack
Pierson and Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Mark Morrisroe
produced an incredibly rich and various body of
work in the brief ten-plus years in which he was
active. He survived a fraught childhood and teen
years as a prostitute (he was once shot by a
client) to attend the School of the Museum of
Fine Arts in Boston, where he made friendships
with Goldin, Armstrong and others, performed in
drag under the name Sweet Raspberry, cofounded
the punk zine Dirt (“he sort of invented the
Boston punk scene,” Jack Pierson later recalled)
and eventually graduated from the school with
honors. Shortly after, Morrisroe moved to New
York, acquired a Polaroid camera and began photographing.
Most of his photographs are portraits—
of hustlers, lovers, friends and of himself—
or hand-painted photograms. Morrisroe is
also famed for his X-ray self-portraits, which show
the bullet lodged near his spine after his shooting.
All of his output carries this reckless, go-forbroke
character, and an edge of urgency and
necessity. After his death (from AIDS-related illnesses),
more than 2,000 Polaroids were found
among his possessions. This first comprehensive
monograph compiles photographs and ephemera
from the early punk years to Super-8 films, photograms
and the late self-portraits. More than
500 photographs are reproduced here, alongside
essays and an extensive biography.