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WHERE IS THE REFUGE IN A PRISON?

Where is our greatest refuge? A hideaway? Our home? The bedroom? The bed? Artist Dani Gherca reasoned that for women imprisoned in her home country of Romania, the greatest refuge was the bed.

“The bed is no only an object used for the body’s physiological and physical rest, but it’s also an intimate space for the women during the detention. The two square meters around the bed, is the only perimeter she can keep for herself,” says Gherca. “After I talked with some prisoners, I found that, in the evening, when the lights go out in the detention room … that is the only moment when each one of them can afford a really intimate moment.”

As such, Gherca made portraits of women on their beds and asked each to provide context by asking them about their thoughts during those quiet, solitary minutes. The resulting series is called Intime (2012).

I asked Gherca a few questions to provide background to Intime. We publish the female prisoners’ responses in full.

Please continue scrolling.

Alina

Alina

The night-my thoughts. The night for me, as well for the people around, represents the most quiet period, in which the soul and the mind can meditate and can realize what they’ we done bad or good during the day. The night behind bars is both sweet and bitter. The loneliness oppresses me, the distance from my family struggles me. Every night I am thinking about my child that I love and respect with all my heart; at the beautiful moments that I lost because of my mistakes. I am thinking at the moment when I will step over the threshold to freedom; at my little’s girl innocent smile and sweet hug. Every night I pray to be strong to carry out the punishment and to can be next to my child and to make it up to the period in which she stayed without me.

Q&A WITH DANI GHERCA

Prison Photography (PP): I understand the method, the aim and the outcomes of Intime, but why did you want to photograph inside a prison in the first place?

Dani Gherca (DG): The idea of intimacy is very important for me. I think that us, as human beings, we need freedom of mobility, but have also the bigger need to be able to decide when we want to be alone. The prison is an institution that hides people’s need of intimacy, an institution that limits the woman’s need for mobility.

PP: Targsor has been photographed before – in a photo workshop format by Cosmin Bumbut and by photographer Ioana Carlig. Were you aware of these projects?

DG: Yes, I know Cosmin and Ioana’s projects. However, I am interested to document the prison only on the conflict between privacy and this space that compels people to live together 24 hours a day.

PP: Has Targsor been photographed so much because it is relatively relaxed?

DG: Targsor Prison has a more permissive status in this kind of approach. However, I was attracted by this prison because it is the only prison for woman from Romania.

PP: What do Romanians think about prisons?

DG: In the last 3 years, the prison has become an institution that is seen as a method of revenge, mainly due to politicians who were sentenced in large numbers in this period.

PP: What do audiences think about your portraits and the prisoners’ written thoughts?

DG: The audience was more interested in the letters written by the girls. It was a new situation: to have access at the thoughts of some prisoners. Given the fact that this wasn’t an interview, the girls were more relaxed, and acted like they had written letters.

PP: Did the women talk about photography and what it gave them? Did for them? How they used it?

DG: I took them some printed photos. They send pictures home so it’s a good opportunity for them to have some portraits to send to their families. Otherwise, they cannot take pictures. Generally, I think they like to pose. It makes them feel somehow important.

PP:  Thanks, Dani.

DG: Thank you, Pete.

WOMENS’ TESTIMONIES

Ana Maria

Ana-Maria 2

“Of all the moderates, the most detestable is the one of the heart.” (A. Camus)

Of how much love we gathered in my soul for you, I’d be able to build the whole world and would still remain. I could build seas and oceans, the sky with billiards of stars and would still remain because my love for you doesn’t knows limits or dimensions. That’s why, I will take a little piece from my soul and a little from your love and I will build a world JUST FOR US and a sky for OUR stars to shine and an infinite ocean of love in which we can swim after the OUR sun will burn our feet after longs wanderings though cities lost in antiquity, cities of a civilization where we have our roots and have never been known, only by angles because the holy land of our love has its foundation on the last rung of the ladder that climbs to God.

Ana-Maria

Ana-Maria

Before getting here I was very happy next to my children, next to my family. I regret I am sorry that I have to stay away from my family and she suffers too for me. Now I am sitting and thinking at a more beautiful and happy with my family. To find a place to work, to take walks with the children in the park, to build them a beautiful future, to teach them only nice things, to take them to school to stay away from various kinds of crimes. I have an advice for the ones outside, for all the scholars: stay away from the entourages. The entourages will make you steal, rob. They will make you commit various kinds of crimes and is it wrong to get here. Here is a big sufferance and it’s hard to abide, to stay away from your children, from your family, it is very hard. Please think well before getting in entourages and with who will hang out.

Claudia

Claudia

My thoughts. I am thinking every night at my little boy and at my family to arrive as soon as possible next to them at home. Millions of thoughts and ideas that I want to do appear in my mind, but all are in vain, because I am here. I like very much to listen to music and to sit in quiet because I am a calm person. I am waiting forward for the day when I will be at home. This is the only thing that I am thinking about.

Gica Claudia

Gica Claudia

My thoughts. I am thinking every night about how I will retake my life back into a new beginning, a new life. It’s hard and very hard to retake it from the ground, but with the help of the Good God, I will succeed with everything that I passed by sufferance. I have 3 children and I am thinking every night at them and at their future, do not go through what I went through in life. Another life for them, the very best.

Isaura

Izaura1

At night I am thinking about; my family, at the liberation, at what work place to find, night by night. I regret the day when I committed this crime, and I am thinking how to build my life so I won’t get here again, because it is very difficult to think that there is nothing more valuable than freedom.

Marcela

Marcela

What I’m thinking? Really, what I’m thinking? Only about the day that passed, and the day that will come…

Maybe nothing can be more beautiful and more good than to feel that what I’ve done today is better than what I did yesterday and tomorrow I will start something better. Any day is A BEGINNING for me!

Monica Luminita

Monica Luminita

My thoughts. I am thinking every night when I sit in my bed about my children and at how I will react after four years have passed day-by-day. I like listening oriental music. I like Turkish movies, the comedies.

At night, I have moments in which I can’t sleep because of the punishment and I am thinking from where I started and where I’ll finish at my day of freedom; when I will see my children after 4 years and a few months. I repent for getting in these places. Never in my life I will I commit crimes, to arrive here again. I won’t leave my children alone ever.

BIOGRAPHY

Dani Gherca (b.1988) lives in Bucharest and works in Romania. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Photo-Video Department, at the National University of Arts in Bucharest (2013) and a Masters of Arts from the Dynamic Image and Photography Department, at the National University of Arts in Bucharest (2015).

Originally posted on Abolitionist Law Center:

MEDIA RELEASE: Lawsuit seeks attorney and family access to Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Abu-Jamal has been held virtually incommunicado in the hospital for a week

May 18, 2015: This morning attorneys for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court seeking immediate access to their client, who has been held virtually incommunicado at the Geisinger Medical Center since Tuesday, May 12. Abu-Jamal has been denied all communication with his attorneys since that time.

Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and Robert Boyle, attorneys for Abu-Jamal, are plaintiffs in the action along with Abu-Jamal. A motion for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order was filed with the lawsuit asking that the court issue an order granting Abu-Jamal visitation with his attorneys and wife, Wadiya Jamal.

On Tuesday May 12th in the evening Mumia was taken from the prison infirmary to Geisinger Medical Center in…

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If you live in Portland, Oregon and you’re planning to get wed over Memorial Day weekend, why not let a Magnum Photos photographer come by and make some shots? Via.

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Photo: Meghann Riepenhoff

I’m one of five jurors for this years annual juried show at SF Camerawork. Y’all should enter. Here’s the blurb …

CALL FOR ENTRIES: HEAT

This summer, SF Camerawork teams up with LensCulture to host our Annual Juried Exhibition. The theme this year is HEAT.

HEAT registers the volatility and restlessness that comes with long hot summers: violent crime rates increase, leases expire and people seek new homes, global weather changes signal an alarm, and warm summer days bring adults and children alike into the streets, parks, and beaches.

SF Camerawork invites artists to submit work that responds to HEAT: the social, political, and climatic conditions of rapidly changing environments. Following the lead of social and political advocates around the world, SF Camerawork asks artists working at all levels in photography to participate.

Art is politics. Particularly in the realistic forms of photography and filmmaking, what gets assigned, shown or sold reflects political considerations. […] Politics is in the air. All you need to do to get the message is breathe. – Danny Lyon.

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Photo: David Butow

DETAILS

Deadline: Monday, June 15, 2015, 5pm PST.
Notification: Finalists will be contacted on July 1st.
Exhibition Dates: July 23 – August 22, 2015.
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 23, 6-8pm.
Application Fee: $50 application fee for up to 15 images.

ENTER NOW ON LENSCULTURE AND CREATE AN ACCOUNT TO UPLOAD YOUR APPLICATION

AWARDS/BENEFITS

EXHIBITION AT SF CAMERAWORK: 2-5 finalists will have a 4-week exhibition at SF Camerawork.
LIVE ONLINE REVIEW SESSION: Finalists will receive a one-on-one review with a juror through this innovative platform hosted by LensCulture.
20 JUROR SELECTIONS FEATURED: 20 juror selections will be exhibited on interactive screens at SF Camerawork as part of the exhibition.
FEATURE ARTICLE ON LENSCULTURE: Finalists will be featured in an article on LensCulture.
ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP: All entrants will receive a one-year membership to SF Camerawork.

HEAT 2015 JURY

Pete Brook, Writer and Curator, Founder: Prison Photography
Jim Casper, Editor and Publisher, LensCulture
Seth Curcio, Associate Director, Pier 24 Photography
Janet Delaney, Artist and Educator
Heather Snider, Executive Director, SF Camerawork

QUESTIONS?

Please email info@sfcamerawork with “Call for Entries” in the subject line.

SF CAMERAWORK

Founded in 1974, SF Camerawork‘s mission is to encourage and support emerging artists to explore new directions and ideas in the photographic arts. Through exhibitions, publications, and educational programs, we strive to create an engaging platform for artistic exploration as well as community involvement and inquiry.

SF Camerawork is a membership-based organization.

http://www.sfcamerawork.org

1011 Market St., 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Gallery hours: 12:00 – 6:00 pm
Tuesday – Saturday (also by appointment)
415.487.1011

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Photo: McNair Evans

Woman with her mud. 2012 Sanatorium worker prepares to remove the rest of used healing mud. The mud reserves are coming to the end as a source mud lake is now placed on the territory of Kashagan oil refinery plant. Atyrau, Kazakhstan. 2012

My piece For These Post-Soviet Nations, Big Oil Offers Hope and Fear
about Mila Teshaieva’s Promising Waters pubbed on WIRED this week.

Promising Waters documents changes Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan — three countries that touch the Caspian Sea and were for 70 years part of the Soviet Union.

“They are going through total reinvention—the new world, new society, and new futures pushed to rise with the help with oil and gas resources from the Caspian Sea,” says Teshaieva. “This idea of ‘new’ gives particular promises to people.”

Read the full piece and see more here.

Museum of Cosmos. 2013 A museum of Cosmos in Ashgabad, the capital of Turkmenistan that holds five Guinness records; the latest is having Òthe most white marble-clad buildingsÓ in the world. Turkmenistan, 2013

Fisherman with his nets. 2010 Fisherman gathers his nets in a poaching hut at Pirallahi island. As no other work exists outside the capital, people living along the sea are turning to the poaching, which is largely covered by bribes. The Caspian Sea is overfished for years, and the sturgeon is currently close to complete extinction. Azerbaijan, 2010

Ruins of Soviet holiday resort. 2011 The ruins of Soviet luxury restaurant at Buzovna resort near Baku. The restaurant was closed and the beach is now out of bounds as it appeared to be too close to the walls of president Aliyev's holiday house. Azerbaijan, 2011

Family house. 2010 Internally displaced people from Karabakh live in cardboard homes at abandoned industrial factory in Baku since twenty years. They have never got any aid from government despite managed to build new life in these inhuman conditions. Azerbaijan. 2010

Official in his office. 2010 An official of Narimanabad village in his office. Azerbaijan. 2010

Untitled (Quba). 2011 Soviet era books are collected to trash in a former library in Quba. The alphabet in the country was changed from Cyrillic to Turkish after the independence and history of the country is now being re-writen, thus most of Soviet books became not needed. Azerbaijan. 2011

Past of Kenderli. 2011 A women stays near her house in abandoned soviet holiday camp at Kenderli beach. Current the camp is demolished and soon will become a luxury resort with planned 6 billion dollars investments. Kazakhstan. 2011

Originally posted on The Prison Arts Coalition:

Dear all,

I am a portrait photographer and photojournalist keenly interested in documenting the work of prison arts rehabilitation programs. I am a New York City based photographer who has worked on assignment for publications including the Village Voice, New York Observer, Out Magazine, City & State, Capital New York, etc. I have also been fortunate enough to do ongoing pro bono work for UN Women’s global HeForShe initiative for gender equality, an issue that I am extremely passionate about.

For a while now I have been interested in working with prisoners, especially within the context of arts rehabilitation. My aim would be to create a multimedia piece documenting both the work of the organization or program in general, as well as honing in on individuals and telling their stories, focusing on their art and journey through and beyond the criminal justice system.

I was extremely moved by a piece…

View original 86 more words

CUNY_Panel_May2015_Incarceration

THE WHAT

If you’re in New York this Thursday and can spare the time, please think about joining four photo practitioners and I for Everyday Incarceration – Visualizing the Legacy of Mass Incarceration, a panel discussion about images of prisons and the associated social issues. We’ll be tackling the core question: Who gets to tell the story of a locked up nation?

THE LINE UP

Zara Katz and the Department of Visual Journalism at the CUNY J-School have done a great job of putting together a panel with diverse perspectives and practices – one documentary storyteller using video; one photographer who’s eye on the issues stretches back decades; one lawyer using software code and images to engage audiences and empower prisoners; and one former correctional officer turned campaigner armed with his photos from the job. Check the bios below!

THE PORTRAIT STUDIO

After the panel, we invite you to sit for a portrait and to tell us your experience with incarceration. The photos will appear on @EverydayIncarceration, a collaborative Instagram feed.

THE DETAILS

The panel takes place in Room 308 of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, at 219 W. 40th Street, NY 10018.

6:30-9:30pm on Thursday, May 14th.

The event is free but an RSVP is very appreciated. Do that at – cunyphotowire@journalism.cuny.edu or at the event page on the Facebook.

THE PANELISTS

Gabriela-Bulisova

Lashonia Etheridge-Bay, a 39 year-old woman who was granted parole in 2011 after spending 18 years in prison. Bulisova’s series Time Zone follows Etheridge-Bay’s return to society. Photo: Gabriela Bulisova.

Gabriela Bulisova is a documentary photographer and multimedia artist based in Washington, D.C. Over the past five years, she focused her attention on underreported and overlooked stories regarding incarceration and reentry, especially the impact on families. Bulisova has received numerous recognitions and awards, including The National Press Photographers Association’s Short Grant and Open Society Institute’s Moving Walls 18. In 2005, she was awarded the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Digital Imaging from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in photojournalism at the Corcoran School of Arts and Design in Washington D.C. and is a member of Women Photojournalists of Washington.

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Michael is 17 and has ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder. He is on Ritalin.  He is under house arrest and wears an electronic monitoring device. He was arrested for possession of a knife and violating probation.  He is living in a hotel room with the rest of his family, 7 people in total. San Jose, California 1999. Photo: Joseph Rodriguez.

Joseph Rodriguez was born and raised in Brooklyn. His four-decade photography career examines incarceration, gangs, police and reentry, as well as families, communities and cultures across the globe. After being incarcerated at Rikers Island as a minor in the late-60s, Rodriguez turned to photography as a guide in his life. In 1985 he graduated from the International Center of Photography in New York. He went on to work for Black Star photo agency, and has published work in multiple top-tier outlets including National Geographic and The New York Times Magazine. He has received numerous awards and grants including New York Foundation for the Arts, Open Society Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, to name a few. Rodriguez currently teaches at New York University and as a visiting artist at national and international universities.

steele6

Photo: Lorenzo Steele.

Lorenzo Steele Jr. is a former New York City Correction officer (1987-1999) who mostly worked in the juvenile units at Rikers Island. He was regularly the photographer at events and celebrations with his fellow officers. In 1996, Steele began bringing his camera to the prison to document his experience there. That included daily violence and abuse of inmates and correctional officers. The deep emotional and physiological impact of his experience at Rikers compelled Steele to start a visual arts education program where he shares his photographs and prison experience with middle school and high school students.

holmes.photo1

Image courtesy of Nikki Zeichner/Growing Up Through Pictures

Nikki Zeichner began exploring multimedia storytelling with the Museum of the American Prison, a project that she initiated in 2012 to offer mainstream audiences a way to understand personal and experiential details of incarceration in the U.S. Her interest in telling stories about incarceration grew out of her experiences working as a criminal defense attorney in New York City and regularly visiting with clients held in federal and state pretrial detention facilities in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Nikki recently completed a Master’s degree in Integrated Digital Media from NYU’s Engineering School and is spending 2015 in San Francisco designing civic tech tools for a small, post-bankrupt municipality in Northern California. She remains in regular contact with the incarcerated individuals she worked with creatively on museum projects.

Originally posted on Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project:

ACJP Organizer Gail Noble writes a commentary on what State Attorney Marylin Mosby’s decision to charge the officers involved in the murder of Freddie Gray means to her as a mother of three black sons.

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When I heard the six police officers in Baltimore were being charged, I was shocked and overjoyed. “Yes!” I said with fists in the air. I thought about Freddie, the severe pain I heard in his voice when he cried out. I remembered the images of his limp body as they dragged him to the van. If officers are that blind to a person’s welfare, they deserve to be charged and I pray they are convicted.

As a mother of three black sons, hearing State Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s words were especially vital for me. Everyday, I fear for my three sons living in an America which is plagued with racism and police brutality. I have…

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