|Allan De Souza|
A series of nineteenth century American paintings by William Michael Harnett (1848-1892), John F. Peto (1854-1907), and John Haberle (1856-1933) form a distinctive genre of still-life-itself a catalogue as well as a denial of decay and death. These paintings use as their subject matter the personal noticeboard, letter rack and chalkboard, to which are attached collections of personal documents--letters, portrait photographs, certificates, heirlooms etc.
Rather than evoke the grand narratives-an omission which might partly account for their lapse into relative obscurity-these documents quietly suggest another cherished myth of America, the saga of the "little man."
Into these "quiet narratives," I have inserted hidden or silenced narratives, whose absence or translucence form meta-, but subtextual narratives-the other America, as it were.