Saskia Takens-Milne

Los Angeles Courthouse, 29th March 1971 is an adaptation of a photograph of Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie van Houten, members of the ‘Manson family’, taken at Los Angeles Courthouse on the 29th March, 1971 – the day of their sentencing to death for the murders of Sharon Tate, Voyteck Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. (Because of subsequent changes to Californian law, the sentences were commuted to life imprisonment). Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten, all apparently in hopeless thrall to Manson’s cult of personality before and during the trial, attracted outrage and hatred in the media and wider society not only for the horrific quality of the killings themselves but for their hysterically cheerful conduct during proceedings. By replacing the faces of Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten with my own face, I intend to provoke questions about the nature of moral culpability; the possibility of empathy with the perpetrators of terrible crimes; and the extent to which the suggestibility of the ‘Manson family’, which has been treated as showing the exceptional moral weakness of the ‘Family’s’ members, is actually often mirrored in the deliberations of individuals and societies arriving at judgements about the nature of justice.


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