CRUEL AND UNUSUAL: Prison Photography Exhibition Part I

Photograph © Deborah Luster
Series: 'One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana.' Year: 1999 - 2003
Title: Cowboy, Louisiana State Penitentiary. Year: 1999.
Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery

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Photograph © Jane Lindsay
Series: Gems. Year: 2011 - ongoing
Tintypes, cast resin, bottlecaps
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Photograph © Steve Davis
Series: Captured Youth. Year: 2000-2005.
Title: 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14, Green Hill. Year: 2000

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Photograph © Nathalie Mohadjer
Series: The Dungeon. Year: 2009. The prisoners receive no food by the government in these detention cells. Some prisoners have no food for weeks and they beg the others to get the left over’s. Cibitoke, Burundi. read more

Series: Tent City. Josue Enrique Vargas, Michoacan, Mexico worked as a home painter in the United States. He had been in the United States for five years when he was picked up for a DUI (drunk driving) arrest. read more

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Cruel and Unusual is a curatorial collaboration between guest curators Pete Brook and Hester Keijser. The exhibition showcases the work of Araminta de Clermont, Amy Elkins, Alyse Emdur, Christiane Feser, Jane Lindsay, Deborah Luster, Nathalie Mohadjer, Yana Payusova, Lizzie Sadin, Lori Waselchuk, and others.

"Cruel and Unusual looks at how prison systems are depicted and what those depictions tell us. As taxpayers and empathetic humans, how well informed are we of the lives and experiences within penal institutions? How are images of locked facilities manufactured, distributed and consumed? United by what might be considered a limiting subject matter, the exhibited photographers employ a wide range of approaches, materials and techniques, depending on the amount of access granted, and varying from vernacular photography, alternative processes, texts, painted photos, digital manipulations to straight black and white documentary."

"In the U.S. the expense and failure of prisons has come under increasing scrutiny since the global economic recession. Over a period of just 40 years, failed 'tough on crime' policies, sensationalist TV media, prison privatization, and a misinformed public contributed a near 500% increase of the U.S. prison population. Recent arms trade figures show heavy investments in military crowd control systems across Africa, the wider Middle East and beyond. Incarceration is one of the many instruments put into place by states fearing popular revolts and riots threatening their internal stability."

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"Cruel and Unusual refers to a long-established legal term that first appeared in the 1689 English Bill of Rights. Adopted in the late 18th century as part of the U.S. Constitution, the 8th Amendment declares: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” In 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that understanding of "cruel and unusual punishments" should change over time, being those punishments which offend society's "evolving sense of decency."

Cruel and Unusual
18 February - 1 April, 2012
Noorderlicht Gallery
9711 JB Groningen, Netherlands

Prison Photography's Pete Brook
Talks Blogs, Prisons, Road Trips and Photography

February 18th 4:00 - 6:00 pm

CRUEL AND UNUSUAL: Prison Photography Part II

Text courtesy of the curators and the Noorderlicht Gallery

1 comment:

Kristin H said...

As I used to study Criminology at the University of Oslo, I have always been fascinated by prisons and the fairness or unfairness of it all. The most scary part is how fast one can end up on the wrong side of the law, innocent or not!!