CRIME SCENES. Interwar interiors through the lens of forensic photography

20-05-2021 until 10-07-2021
Rozier 1, 9000 Gent

CRIME SCENES. Interbelluminterieurs door de lens van de forensische fotografieConfidential footage of crime scenes from judicial files from the 1920s and 1930s is the somewhat unusual starting point for an exhibition about interwar interiors in Belgium. Forensic photography, then systematically applied in the context of the fight against crime, which was becoming more professional according to international example, is a still unexplored but valuable source for research into historical interiors.

The sharp glass negatives and black and white photo prints, together with the detailed floor plans of the crime scenes, offer us an uncensored, voyeuristic look at the interior design of modal home interiors in different layers of society. References in the legal files provide additional information, for example about the use of space, colors, family composition and the profile of the residents.
The cases studied from the 1920s and 1930s in the provinces of East Flanders and Antwerp nuance the strong emphasis on modernism in the existing literature on architecture and interior during the interwar period in Belgium. The studied interiors, albeit mostly from the lower and middle classes, do not always correspond with current housing advice and interior advertisements in magazines and professional literature. They show living as it was.

The exhibition has been prepared in the research seminar 'Art, interior and design' of the master's program in Art History at Ghent University, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marjan Sterckx, and in collaboration with the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities (Davy Verbeke) and students from KULeuven, Campus Sint-Lucas Ghent, Faculty of Architecture and Interior Architecture led by Leen Scholiers and An Vanderveken. It is organized with the cooperation and support of the State Archives in Ghent (Paul Drossens) and Antwerp-Beveren (Dr. Bart Willems), and the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of Ghent University.