Open • Morgan Ashcom
2022, 148 pages, 34 plates, 9.1x7.2x0.70 inches, EDITION: 750; First edition, first printing, GNOMIC Book.
Morgan Ashcom began Open while making photographs of daily life in Occupied Palestine in 2009. As Ashcom departed Palestine for his home in the United States, Israeli security forces opened his box of unprocessed film, exposing the images he had made to light. Assuming they were ruined, Ashcom left the mostly unexamined film in his studio for over a decade. Meanwhile, the Israeli-imposed apartheid continued.
In 2021, Ashcom revisited the negatives and saw new potential in them: the film was not ruined; rather, the tenuously visible images referenced resiliency and vulnerability, censorship and subversion, erasure, and the possibility of its reversal.
Open is a unique object: a container referencing Ashcom’s film box in and of itself, suggesting a paradox: should you open the box, or are you forbidden from doing so? Inside rests a passport-like book containing 34 pictures. Translucent pages obscure the imagery with fragments of communications between Ashcom and the financial institutions which thwarted his efforts to raise money for a Palestinian children's charity.
While the text originated from this experience, it takes on new meaning as a form of concrete poetry. Through erasure and distortion of text and photographic information, Open offers the possibility to imagine alternatives to the histories and futures imposed by apartheid.