Much of the work in the forthcoming Cruel and Unusual exhibition will be exhibited in Europe for the first time. Some of the photographers I have interviewed for Prison Photography before, but not Jane Lindsay.
I met Jane at Arizona State University, where she studies for an MFA and teaches the undergrads. With a warm heart, she’s talented, conscientious and new on the scene. I’m proud to showcase her work.
Jane’s series Gems gives back – to men and women arrested in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jurisdiction – the dignity he tries his best to strip from them. She is disgusted by Arpaio’s website Mugshot of the Day which publishes the booking photos of people taken into Maricopa County Jail, AZ. The site allows members of the public to gawp, laugh, and vote for their preferred “mugshot of the day.”
It’s public humiliation. It’s also an abuse of power. As Jane points out, many of the people booked into jail suffer with mental-illness, addiction, disability and may be victims of domestic violence or other abuse themselves. Sheriff Arpaio’s response? Insert them into his sideshow-freakshow.
Arpaio encourages us to be callous in our judgement of fellow humans. To be these ugly referees we must stop giving a damn about circumstance or story; we must suspend an interest in time and it’s ability to heal and change things; we must embrace the most lazy understanding of images.
Arpaio wants us to join him in his class-severed world of contempt and mockery. Jane Lindsay refuses.
Screengrabs from the Mugshot of the Day website are transferred onto transparencies from which Jane makes a tiny tintype of each portrait. To date, she’s made over 6,000.
Within the hollow of a bottle cap she inserts a tintype and seals it with resin. These objects, to be held, mimic the eighteenth & nineteenth century devotion objects loved ones shared with each other. Like the contents of a locket without the chain.
Jane doesn’t even want to display them linearly as if to repeat the humiliation of Arpaio’s grid. So she gives them strength in numbers in a purpose-made box. When a viewer is ready they can dip in their hand, select one and spend some time with an individual.
Jane Lindsay’s website is currently under construction.