<p>Sally Mann For more than four decades, Sally Mann has explored “the overarching themes of existence: memory, desire, death, the bonds of family, and nature’s magisterial indifference to human endeavor,” says Sarah Greenough, senior curator at the National Gallery of Art, where a major survey of Mann’s elegiac black-and-white photographs arrives this spring.</p>
In 1960, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) held The Sense of Abstraction, its second show on the relationship between photography and abstract art in under ten years. Following Abstraction in Photography, in 1951, which mixed scientific and fine art photographs, The Sense of Abstraction shifted direction, redefining the topic at hand.
This is the first color picture by Garry Winogrand that I ever saw (on the cover of the 2002 book Winogrand: 1964), and the picture that made me want to visit White Sands in New Mexico. Is visit too mild a word for this extreme patch of otherworldly wilderness?
In a society with strict definitions of manhood, how are photographers portraying Iranian masculinity?
Since the 1979 revolution, Iran’s image abroad has been defined by its politics. In this newsroom universe, Iranian women have been front and center in the frame, the Western gaze seeking their exotic attire and problems. Iranian men, on the other hand, have been strangely absent from this picture, unless they are bearded politicians or directors of art-house movies.
He was born in Buffalo, New York, but Gregory Halpern found the light in California. His award-winning photobook ZZYZX (2016), named for a village and former mineral springs spa near the Mojave Desert, presents images that move westward across Los Angeles in a five-year chronicle of vivid, seemingly unrelated scenes—a blue tarp punched with holes, a smoky mountainside, a staircase leading nowhere, a couple towing carts of their possessions.
Most prisons and jails across the United States do not allow prisoners to have access to cameras. How, then, can images tell the story of mass incarceration when the imprisoned don’t have control over their own representation? How can photographs visualize a reality that, for many, remains outside of view?
A visionary legal thinker, Bryan Stevenson has protected the rights of the vulnerable through his work as a death-row lawyer. With the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization he founded in 1994, Stevenson has made strides to end mass incarceration and challenge racial and economic injustice.
Photography has a long-standing relation to policing. Not long after its invention, in 1839, the technology began to be used for the twinned purposes of identification and surveillance. In Paris, the police deployed photography in efforts to pinpoint serial offenders, and also to instruct a broader population in methods of scrutiny.
When a folklorist set out to document life in American prisons, he found the enduring segregation of the Old South
Among other things, the American prison system is designed to keep a purportedly disagreeable or disposable portion of the population out of sight and out of mind. The same walls that keep prisoners in are intended to keep prying eyes out. The secret lives of prisoners—their living conditions, their social systems, their codes—are, in the free world, virtually invisible, and, therefore, unknowable.
A photograph means more in prison. Tacked on a cell wall, it can be one of the few connections to life outside—to the Christmases, birthdays, and graduations passing, or the children and grandchildren growing older. And, in the rare moments when the incarcerated themselves are the subject, it can be validation within a dehumanizing system: You are still here.
Jamel Shabazz and Lorenzo Steele, Jr., two photographers who worked as corrections officers, speak with Zarinah Shabazz about photographing life at New York’s Rikers Island
Zarinah Shabazz: You were both introduced to photography by members of your family at an early age. As young men, you both became corrections officers. How did you each decide to work in corrections? Lorenzo Steele, Jr.: I grew up in Queens.
Rikers Island has often been in the news lately. The island jail complex in New York, located across a narrow channel from LaGuardia Airport’s runway paths, houses roughly ten thousand offenders at any given time, most of whom are waiting to be tried and sentenced.
In 2013, two weeks before Easter, Deborah Luster and I went to document The Life of Jesus Christ, a passion play being performed for the general public at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, a maximum-security prison. Cathy Fontenot, now a former assistant warden at the prison, who initiated these performances in 2012, saw it as an opportunity to humanize incarcerated people for an audience of free people.
Since 1994 I have had an exchange of words and images with my cousin Allen, who was sentenced to life in prison at the age of eighteen. We write to each other regularly, often reminiscing about growing up in southwest Ohio. There is such a familiarity in our connection, although our time together is limited to a couple of hours during each of my visits to see him.
Nigel Poor uncovers a trove of photographs from California’s infamous prison
In 1999, at the tail end of a trip to Saint Petersburg, Russia, the artist Nigel Poor found herself standing outside Kresty Prison, the infamous eighteenth-century compound where Leon Trotsky was once held and Anna Akhmatova visited her incarcerated son.
Jesse Krimes was an artist before he was a prisoner. But in 2009, when Krimes— who studied studio art at Millersville University and is now an activist for prison reform—was indicted by the U.S. government for a nonviolent drug offense and sentenced to seventy months, his world was dramatically altered.
Landscapes & Playgrounds (2017), Sable Elyse Smith’s recent artist’s book, from which a sequence of pages is excerpted here, is a meditation on two sites of the prison environment after which the book takes its name. Within it, we encounter a world through the eyes of a young protagonist grappling with the prison system.
Can a website jump-start conversations about inequality, mass incarceration, and institutional violence?
What do we know, through images, of prisons and jails in the United States? What do we see of the sprawling, brutalizing, and failed systems? How do taxpayers view their prisons? Which images shape our imagination of and future responses to mass incarceration?
In 1965, when he was fourteen years old, Joseph Rodriguez, a self-described Brooklyn boy, discovered the photographs of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine. Their trenchant images of child labor conditions and tenement housing provoked calls for reform in early twentieth-century New York, and became a model for the American tradition of socially concerned documentary photography.
Photographs of incarcerated young people usually depict them with ghosted faces. The state requires that their personal identities be protected, so visual representations of them must take care to blur their most human feature. That’s the logic of incarceration: prison erases and dehumanizes.
Huntsville is a prison town. Situated on over fifty acres of land near the town’s center, the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville is the oldest prison in the state of Texas, built in 1849, only four years after Texas was annexed to the United States.
Mass incarceration forms a network of thousands of institutional units of various scales—prisons, courts, private corporations, and a host of government agencies whose tentacles reach across states and outside the borders of the United States.
Stories from the Aperture community— publications, exhibitions, and events
The Artist’s Voice “Do you dream in black and white or color?” Aaron Schuman asked William Klein in 2015, during an Aperture interview at the legendary photographer’s Paris apartment. “Black and white, of course,” Klein replied. Since the first issue of Aperture appeared in 1952, the artist’s voice has been central.
The stereograph, a protoform of virtual reality popular in the nineteenth century, following its invention in the 1850s, allowed Victorian-era viewers to visit exotic locales without leaving home. Early on in this three-dimensional experience, prison life at Sing Sing was subject to the voyeuristic gaze of the free.