By most accounts American photographer Mark Morrisroe burned the candle at both ends, personally and professionally, documenting almost every instant of his short-lived life with his Polaroid camera.
Born to a drug addict mother, by age thirteen Morrisroe was working as a street hustler. Later he would be shot in the back by a client and, eventually, enroll in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Graduating with honours, the artist joined the influential Boston School of photographers, which includes Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Jack Pierson and Philip Lorca diCorcia, capturing his and his friends’ sexual and social relationships. Much of Morrisroe’s work consists of gritty portraits and Polaroids of hustlers, lovers and of himself. After his AIDS-related death in 1989, more than 2000 Polaroids were found among his possessions.
Candidly intimate, voyeuristic images chronicling the underground punk scene in Boston and Manhattan during the 70s and 80s by Morrisroe are now in the spotlight in a new monograph and the first-ever retrospective exhibition at Artists Space gallery, New York. Presented in a maze of rooms, the show, Mark Morrisroe: From This Moment On, is the first comprehensive U.S exhibition of the artist’s oeuvre, showcasing darkly romantic, raw and revealing Polaroids, C-prints and photograms, curated by Richard Birkett and Stefan Kalmár. The monograph, Mark Morrisroe, compiles photographs and ephemera from the early punk years to Super-8 films and late self-portraits. More than 500 photographs are reproduced in the book, alongside essays and an extensive biography.
Mark Morrisroe: From This Moment On is on view through 1st May at Artists Space, 38 Green Street, New York. The book Mark Morrisroe, published by J.R.P. | Ringier is on sale at bookstores now.
All Images © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur