Prison Photography as Dialogue
AbstractIn this essay, I consider prison photography, in broad terms, as a rhetorical and social network that potentially or actually brings together agents from both sides of the prison walls. I attempt to discuss prison photography as a practice that exposes the stark border separating the inside and outside of prisons, while creating communication channels attempting to bridge such divide. If, on the one hand, photographic initiatives centered on prisons, and the increased visibility they entail, contribute to blur the divide between inside and outside, on the other hand, photography retains and amplifies the stark quality of this divide – both because of the inescapable realism and documentary value of photographic images and because photographic images make present, and materialize, the starkly uneven distribution of the technological means for crafting them. Because of its fluid, yet inescapably asymmetrical nature, prison photography requires, and simultaneously fosters, a nuanced reflection on what separates the world within prison walls from the world without.
Mashable 23 March 2016. mashable.com/2016/03/23/inside-san-quentin/?europe=true. Last visited
July 23, 2019.
Azoulay, Ariella. The Civil Contract of Photography. New York: Zone Books, 2008.
Bengal, Rebecca. “San Quentin Archive: Nigel Poor Uncovers a Trove of Photographs from California’s
Infamous Prison.” Aperture 230 (Spring 2018): 82-91.Bennett, Sara. Life After Life in Prison. http://www.lifeafterlifeinprison.com/life-after-life. Last visited October
---. Looking Inside. http://www.lifeafterlifeinprison.com/gallery. Last visited October 24, 2019.
---. The Bedroom Project. http://www.lifeafterlifeinprison.com/bedroom. Last visited October 24, 2019.
Brook, Pete. “In Assessing ‘Photo Requests from Solitary’ Let’s Ask If the Image Meets the Prisoner’s Brief?”
Prison Photography 11 July 2017. prisonphotography.org/2017/07/11/in-assessing-photo-requestsfrom-solitary-does-the-image-meet-the-prisoners-brief/. Last visited July 9, 2019.
---. “Prison Index.” Aperture 230 (Spring 2018): 105-109.
---. Prison Obscura. Catalogue. exhibits.haverford.edu/prisonobscura/. 2014.
Dyer, Geoff. The Ongoing Moment. New York: Vintage Books, 2007.
“Editors’ Note.” Aperture 230 (Spring 2018): 19.
Fleetwood, Nicole R. “Posing in Prison: Family Photographs, Emotional Labor, and Carceral Intimacy.”
Public Culture 27.3 (September 2015): 487-511.
Goodman, Audrey. “Assembling California Photobooks.” Iperstoria. Rivista di Studi di Americanistica e di
Anglistica 11 (Spring 2018): 55-68.
Henning, Michelle. “The Subject as Object: Photography and the Human Body.” Photography: A Critical
Introduction. Third Edition. Ed. Liz Wells. London: Routledge, 2004. 159-192.
Jackson, Bruce. Inside the Wire: Photographs from Texas and Arkansas Prisons. Austin: University of Texas
---. Killing Time: Life in the Arkansas Penitentiary. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977.
---. Pictures from a Drawer: Prison and the Art of Portraiture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009.
Krimes, Jesse. Purgatory. 2009. www.jessekrimes.com/purgatory-2009. Last visited October 23, 2019.
Lewis, Sarah. “Truth & Reconciliation: Bryan Stevenson in Conversation with Sarah Lewis.” Aperture 230
(Spring 2018): 21-29.
Linfield, Susie. The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence. Chicago: The University of Chicago
Manalansan IV, Martin F. “The ‘Stuff’ of Archives: Mess, Migration, and Queer Lives.” Radical History Review
120 (Fall 2014): 94-107.
Poor, Nigel. San Quentin Project, Part #3. nigelpoor.com/project/san-quentin-part-3/. Last Visited July 26,
Schlosser, Eric. “The Prison-Industrial Complex.” The Atlantic December 1998.
www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1998/12/the-prison-industrial-complex/304669/. Last visited
July 26, 2019.
Sekula, Allan. “The Body and the Archive.” October 39 (Winter 1986): 3-64.
Strandquist, Mark. Some Other Places We’ve Missed. www.nomovement.com/Some-Other-Places-We-veMissed. Last Visited July 29, 2019.
Tapia, Ruby C. “Introduction. Certain Failures: Representing the Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the
United States.” Interrupted Life: Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United States. Eds. Rickie
Solinger,et al. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.
---. “Profane Illuminations: The Gendered Problematics of Critical Carceral Visualities.” PMLA 123.3 (May
Thomas, Hank Willis. “Solitary Resistance: Jesse Krimes in Conversation with Hank Willis Thomas.”
Aperture 230 (Spring 2018): 92-97.
Wallis, Brian. “Bruce Jackson on the Inside.” Aperture 230 (Spring 2018): 34-43.
Wilkins, Kristen S. Supplication. www.kristenwilkins.com/supplication. Last visited July 29, 2019.
Copyright (c) 2020 Serena Fusco
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Iperstoria is an Open Access journal.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 BY-NC License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of their work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. We require authors to inform us of any instances of re-publication.