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Edmund Clark is cheeky, thoughtful and a bit subversive in his critique of institutional power. During his 10 days embedded at Bagram Airbase in October 2013, he realised most people there don’t ever get outside its confines.

But Bagram has nice paintings of murals to provide an idealised Afghanistan.

My latest for WIRED, The 40,000 People on Bagram Air Base Haven’t Actually Seen Afghanistan I consider his latest body of work and book Mountains Of Majeed:

Clark documented the infrastructure needed to support a military base that covers 6 square miles and employs 40,000 people. He photographed everything from the mess halls and laundry to the sewage treatment system, but the colorful murals and paintings dotting the base most intrigued him. They depict an idyllic, romanticized vision of the local landscape and Hindu Kush, one free of war. The reality, of course, was much bleaker, with the distant peaks of the mountains beyond Bagram riddled with conflict and danger.

Read the piece in full.

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Photobook “Best-Of” lists sprout like wild-cakes this time of year. Among selections, we are not always guaranteed variety, but we are guaranteed quantity.

Aperture tends to preempt many of the main runners and riders in the autumn with its shortlists for the Aperture/Paris Photo Book Awards (30 books total). Then the deluge beings.

A deluge that which Photolia has made an inventory. It’s a list of Photobook “Best-Of-2013” lists; a list of 80+ lists!

Furthermore, QT Luong at Terra Galleria has taken all the individual titles of those 80+ lists, broke down the votes and constructed a meta-list that cumulates each book’s number of votes. Some titles have votes in double figures, and the “winner” Lieko Shiga’s Rasen Kaigan has 22 votes.

By years end, Best-Of lists had been written and checked twice by Wired, American Photo, Time, Mother Jones, New York Times, Dazed DigitalLens Culture, Washington Post, Brain PickingsTom ClaxtonMicrocordEric GundersenConscientiousTim ClarkMonsters & MadonnasValerian and Discipline and Disorder just to name a few.

The Guardian made two lists — one for best indie books and one for offerings by established photobook publishers. Not to mention Alec Soth and Martin Parr‘s eagerly anticipated annual dispatches. Roger May shifted the formula and picked his favorite book purschases . The Artists Book Cooperative maintained their cheeky approach with the year’s worst photobooks.

So what does all this mean? Head to Blake Andrew’s analysis of the best of the “Best-Of photobook lists. Hilarious.

Well, who am I to reject this ubiquity of Photobook “Best-Of” lists? A few weeks ago, I was asked by Photo Eye to name my highlights for the PhotoEye Best Photobooks 2013 feature. I picked seven titles. Here they are. And, below they are.

Bumbata, Cosmin Bumbuţ (Punctum)

bumbutBeyond the prison subject matter which is, of course, very appealing to me, Cosmin Bumbuţ’s book is the best of design with beautiful binding, a punctured front cover, and thoughtful essay. Those elements compliment pictures that are, frankly, some of the closest, least judgmental I have seen of incarcerated peoples. Bumbuţ spent 3 years visiting a single prison. The portrait he paints is of a closed but relatively stable environment with equal representation. Staff and prisoners feature in similar amounts. The variety and color is something beyond that of most American prison photographers. Here is a documentarian who has worked hard to form an understanding with his subjects.

In December, I spoke at length with Bumbuţ about his project and the book.

Tales From The City Of Gold, Jason Larkin (Kehrer Verlag)

larkinIt is astonishing that with such a distinct and consistent approach to image-making that this is Jason Larkin’s first monograph. His work seems so familiar. Once more, the Englishman Larkin has entered (with his 4×5) a peculiar faraway place with peculiar and depressing social and environmental history. Johannesburg is one of the world’s most successful mining cities but waste dumps litter the landscape. South Africans have built communities in the mines’ hinterlands. The price of gold is spiking and the lives of people who live and work in the region is tied to our global commodities market. Larkin casts a curious but not a judgmental eye over our priorities at the dusty and noisy point at which commerce and daily life intersect.

Photojournalists On War, Mike Kamber (University of Texas Press)

kamberEnd of year lists often prioritize photo books with fancy design elements; books that are small run, hand-sewn delicate things. But what about those books about photography that are a bit bigger? What about books put out by a large press, such as UT Press, say? And what about books with more text than image? Photojournalists On War is a brick of a book. Mike Kamber interviewed 89 photographers who covered the War on Iraq. If we are to understand the nature of that flawed conflict then we should pay attention to the journalists whose activities were meant to makes sense of it at the time; make sense of it for us. But, what sense do they make of it now? By virtue of the breadth of opinion and depth of questions, Photojournalists On War is THE reference book for any discussion of the War on Iraq and photography. In much the same way as Photographs Not Taken in 2012 delivered us personal reflections and new entry points to photographic thinking, so Photojournalists On War in 2013 surprises and delights with the first-hand and imperfect narratives. Truth is not usually found in a photograph, but perhaps it can be found in a photographer’s words?

Swell, Mateusz Sarello (Instytut Kultury Wizualnej)

sareeloSea foam smells, threatening birds, big clouds. Swell is a rough experience. As was Mateusz Sarello’s break-up. This book is in two halves. Each half is a visit to the Baltic Sea — the first with his girlfriend, and the second without as part of some therapeutic turn. So different are the images and mood of the images it’s effectively two books in one. Both books’ exposed spines reflect the vulnerability Sarello has embraced in creating a book about his crushed love-life. 88 pages of fragile hand-made loveliness. Handle with care. Given the proliferation of east-of-Western-Europe sea photography projects (think Petrut Calinescu, Rafal Milach, Mila Teshaeiva, Mikhail Mordasov and even Rob Hornstra), it’s tricky to do something novel in this sub-sub-genre, but Sarello pulls it off with focus on the hyperpersonal. And he’s not afraid to use Instax Fujifilm either. I was skeptical at first, but later blown over by the earnestness of the well-edited and understated grouping of images.

Rasen Kaigan, Lieko Shiga (AKAAKA)

shigaBetween 2006 and 2012, Lieko Shiga lived and worked in the region of northeast Japan worst hit by the 2011 Tsunami. Shiga is part photographer and part conceptual artist, so it makes sense that these images (many of which abandon formal photographic considerations) look nothing like the photojournalism we saw in the aftermath of the Tsunami. Darkness, hard-flash, plants, flowers, sweaters, sand and minerals. It’s all very earthy … and strange. But then again, that region is a geography and a collective psychology transformed. Despite Shiga’s camera experiments, we are still presented images of Japanese communities on the mend, making do, building up, tilling the land and doing the simple things that they must. Big disasters are met with small victories. Shiga’s volatile approach is a reminder that the uncomplicated things she photographs only exist because of massive tectonic force.

What might be otherwise read as an assault on the senses is a celebration of the senses — a celebration of life and of living.

Control Order House, Edmund Clark (HERE Press)

clarkThe images are boring; but the concept is exhilarating — which is exactly the point. Edmund Clark photographed the interior of a “home” inhabited by a UK terror suspect under house arrest. A dull suburban 3-bed semi in no-name Britain. Clark worked within pre-agreed, tightly controlled parameters set out by the UK Home Office. Clark and HERE Press include scans of his contracts and official correspondence. The act and the access is more important than the images; the images are only evidence that Clark made a sortie into this never photographed territory before. (In April, I wrote about Control Order House for Wired.)

So many projects these days comment on control from the outside, but here we see images from from within, and according to, control.

Two Rivers, Carolyn Drake (Self-published)

tworiversCarolyn Drake’s photography has long impressed me, so I’m not surprised her first book is a triumph. Dutch book-designer Sybren Kuiper brought considerable style to Two Rivers. Apparently, it was Kuiper who proposed starting the book’s sequence at where the two rivers appear to end versus Drake’s original idea to begin where the rivers originate high in the mountains. Drake has visited the vast expanse of central Asia that lies between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers 15 or more times in recent years. Judging by the images, it remains a region that beguiles Drake. Two Rivers abandons traditional documentary sequencing and reveals the creators own feelings, uncertainties, awe and brief encounters. One slimmer book is words and notes for the chapters in the other larger book containing pictures of fuzzy narrative, refused objectivity and love. The wrap of images around the Japanese style bound pages is stunning.

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A few weeks ago I wrote, for Wired, a piece about Edmund Clark‘s latest body of work Control Order House. The piece carried the irreverent title This Incredibly Boring House Is a U.K. Terror Suspect’s Lockdown but the details of the project it gets into – two years of negotiating access, Clark’s process which riffs on surveillance and forensic photography, Clark’s the decision to present every photograph he took in the order he took them, etc. are important, mildly complex and worth getting one’s head around.

The house Clark documented belonged to a pre-trail UK terror suspect, under house arrested, referred to in legal documents as CE.

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I wrote:

Control Order House is the only existing photographic study of a residence occupied by a person under a UK control order. It is not an exposé, however. Given the legal sensitivities, every image was vetted by UK government officials. Clark was not allowed to reveal the identity of the terror suspect — referred to in legal documents as “CE” — nor his location.

“To reveal CE’s identity would be an offence and in breach of the court-imposed anonymity order,” says Clark. “All the photographs I took or the documents I wanted to use had to be screened by the Home Office.”

For Clark, the project is best appreciated in its book form. Control Order House was published by HERE Press and released May 2nd.

Clark refers to the book as an “object of control” because at a point, he accepted that, with so many attached limitations, his photography was almost an extension of the state power he was documenting. All of his equipment had to be itemized and registered with the UK Home Office before his three visits.

Wired created a Scribd document (that has no URL, but is embedded in the article) with six pages of Clark’s correspondence with both the terror suspect and the UK Home Office employees.

“Even CE’s lawyers made it clear to me that the I had to careful about what I spoke to him about because the house was (very probably) bugged and that my telephone communication with him would be monitored,” explains Clark. “All my material, even my words here [in this interview] could become part of CE’s case.”

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Control Order House is a finely balanced project. It is hampered by so many obstacles to unfettered depiction that our traditional notions of what photography is supposed to do are frustrated. It is not exposé; it is completely descriptive of its own limitations. It’s these limitations from which we must depart in thinking about photography in highly policed spaces. Control Order House should kick-start considerations of lesser seen photographs from the Global War On Terror (GWOT), namely, images of drone strike aftermath, Aesthetics of Terror (as, in this case, distilled by artists), redacted images in magazines distributed at Guantanamo (scroll down), Kill Team trophy photos, American personnel’s own vernacular war photography, and Jihad suicide posters.

Control Order House is about the act of photography. It’s self-referential as kids’ MFA work that deconstructs photographic process, but — unlike those studio experiments — it has roots in a clearly identifiable political territory. It shows us more than we knew but not as much as we would like to know. In so doing it reminds us of all the operations, violence and war crimes carried out on our tax dollar that we never see, never know.

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If you are in Liverpool over the next couple of months, then you should drop in to any number of the exhibits put by LOOK2011 the inaugural Liverpool Photography Festival.

The theme for the festival is “Is Seeing Believing?” Of particular interest is Confined at the Bluecoat.

Confined is an exploration of the idea of confinement in contemporary life by photographers Juergen Chill, Edmund Clark, John Darwell, Dornith Doherty, Ben Graville, David Maisel and David Moore. Subjects range from imprisonment and detention, the ethical treatment of animals, ecological conservation and the history of psychiatric care.

I have a personal involvement in the show. Exhibitions curator Sara-Jayne Parsons asked me to pen some words for the Confined catalogue. And, after interviewing David Moore about his Paddington Green Police Station series I encouraged him to contact Parsons and together they decided to exhibit the prints. It will be the first time Moore has publicly shown his Paddington Green Police Station photographs.

Unfortunately, I won’t be making it over to the UK soon, but I hope those of you who are in Blighty make it to the exhibition, not to mention all the other LOOK2011 exhibits, lectures and workshops.

Confined is on show at the Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX, from Fri, 13 May 2011 – Sun, 10 Jul 2011, 10.00 AM – 6.00 PM, Tickets: Free. (Visitor info)

As part of the ongoing OPEN-i project, Edmund Clark and I discussed Ed’s latest project Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out.

Ed’s nuanced work from on Guantanamo began with his documenting the domestic interiors of released British detainees. As Ed progressed he realised he needed to go to the US base on Cuba. The project deliberately jumps between these environments of “residence”, forcing the viewer to consider the personal as opposed media representations we otherwise rely on.

Ed’s work deliberately excludes portraits of detainees, partly because he feels those images are widespread but also due to a belief that audiences react to “images of bearded men” with unavoidable prejudice.

Ed also looks at the leisure spaces on Guantanamo that US military personnel inhabit during down time. The juxtapositions are poignant.

The photographs in the book Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out wrap around letters received by detainee Omar Deghayes during his time in Gitmo. Except they are not letters, they are copies, processed, redacted, re-processed, copied again. If he received a colour copy it was a rare treat. Some of the correspondence is so bizarre, Deghayes wondered if the were genuine or if they were props to the mind games played by his captors.

My family has been urging me for years to talk more quickly, and having heard myself here I get their point. The only excuse I have is that it was early in the morning here on the Pacific Coast when we sat down for the webinar.

Ed, on the other hand, talks wonderfully about the images and their situation in our shared GWOT visual landscape.

PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMPLEMENTS OF TORTURE

The book, Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out concludes with an essay by Dr. Julian Stallabrass. He describes a rather pernicious and Luddite use of photographs in psychological torture at Guantanamo:

Al-Qahtani was repeatedly shown photographs of scantily dressed women, along with images of 9/11, particularly pictures of children who had died that day, had the pictures taped to his body, and to ensure that he had paid them close attention, he was induced to answer questions about them.

This is a practice of interrogation of which I was not aware and is obviously troubling; a deliberate use of imagery to vex and agitate and an example of the power of photography as applied in an abusive context.

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Thanks to OPEN-i coordinator Paul Lowe for inviting me back once again. It’s an honour to speak with a photographer at the top of his game. OPEN-i is a global network hosting monthly live discussions on critical issues relevant to documentary photography and visual storytelling.

EDMUND CLARK

Edmund Clark is winner of the 2010 International Photography Awards (The Lucies), 2009 British Journal of Photography International Photography Award, and the 2008 Terry O’Neill/IPG Award for Contemporary British Photography for his book ‘Still Life Killing Time’. His work is in several collections including The National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

GITMO – OTHER READINGS

Prison Photography archive of posts referring to Guantanamo.

The Prison Photography Guantanamo: Directory of Photographic and Visual Resources (May 2009)

Edmund Clark who I’ve mentioned before here, here and here, was named in the Photolucida 2009 Critical Mass Top 50.

Statement:

“I am trying to see through the eyes of these men to look for images in their surroundings in Guantanamo and their post-prison homes … which explore themes of imprisonment or entrapment, and which contrast the humanity of domestic life with the demonised representations of them that were used to justify their treatment.”

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“The narrative is confused and unsettled as the viewer is asked to jump from prison camp detail to domestic still life to naval base and back again … [and] to explore the legacy of disturbance such an experience has in the minds and memories of these men.”

© Edmund Clark. Ex-Prisoner Home: Censored letter from daughter brought back from Guantanamo.

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I just keep coming back to Edmund Clark‘s work. And his book isn’t even out yet. It doesn’t help when venerable folk like Jim Casper and Colin Pantall are spending time and energy on his efforts – most recently from Guantanamo.

(BTW, Pantall has been posing some really good questions and posting some really good photography these past few weeks.)

Anyway, upon returning to Pantall’s site I picked up this quote by Clark:

“There is a lot of long lens imagery of Guantanamo showing the prisoners in their orange boiler suits, but I don’t know what that’s telling me.”

It seems to touch upon many of my frustrations with photography from Guantanamo. Many inventive photographers will find manouveurs to draw out a novel image at Camps Delta, X-Ray, Iguana and others. Of course it is worth remembering that the majority of photos coming out of Gitmo will be consumed by the masses through media served by newswire coverage relying on long lens images of faceless orange boiler suits.

Clark has widened the scope of Guantanamo imagery by following the detainees to their homes and picking up on the underwhelming details of their “free” lives. The sterility and parallels between incarceration and home are sometimes frightening.

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With Pantall’s permission I reissue Clark’s words here. Pantall interviewed Clark for the British Journal of Photography. (Underlining for emphasis is mine)

My last book was called Still Life/Killing Time and was about a prison in Britain. I’m interested in the themes of confinement and entrapment. Guantanamo Bay stands out as a symbol of confinement and my imagery is about the symbolism of that confinement. The starting point was going out with detainees who had been released and seeing how they were surviving. These people had been in prison for years, had never been charged but still had this massive label of being the worst of the worst stuck on them. I was interested in what their personal spaces said about them and if they were any traces of what they had experienced in Guantanamo.

Access was very difficult but started with their lawyers and slowly progressed to the point where I could photograph their homes. Once this was done, the second part was getting into Guantanamo itself. I applied to the Pentagon and made it clear I wanted to photograph both the American Naval Base side and the prison side. It took me 6 months to get clearance and then it was another 2 months before I went. Once I was there I was fortunate enough to get paired up with Carol Rosenberg, a journalist from the Miami Herald who had been reporting on Guantanamo since it opened as a prison. She knew how to deal with the Guantanamo media team (who were new in their jobs) and how to get past their obstruction.

I spent 8 days there in total, including 4 days on the naval base. It was like so many expatriate places, more American than America itself. It was interesting to look at the schools, the shops, the restaurants. It was like a little bit of America in Cuba, with reflections both of America and of entrapment; models of old refugee camps, a shrine to the Virgin Mary where she almost seems to be imprisoned, A Ronald MacDonald statue surrounded by fencing and wire. It looks like he’s banged up.

I don’t have any images of the detainees except for one – which shows a guard reflected in the cell window. But that’s not what my work is about. There is a lot of long lens imagery of Guantanamo showing the prisoners in their orange boiler suits, but I don’t know what that’s telling me. My work is about the spaces and what they evoke and how they relate to the spaces people live in once they have been released.

The work is about memory and control and dragging the work out of Guantanamo into where people are living now. I’m doing that through the edit of the 3 different spaces I photographed: the homes, the American Naval Base and the prison. When I got back, I started to edit the pictures in sequence as a narrative, but then I began to mix them up so you’re never quite sure where you are. I juxtaposed images, put one things together so one image sets off ideas that enriches the idea of what it is both to have been in Guantanamo, but also to have that experience inside you.

There are also strange details that I’m not sure off, such as the picture of the Duress button. We were told this was in an exercise room but we think it was one of the interrogation rooms and this was a panic button for the guards. Another picture shows a row of Ensure jars with a plastic tube next to it. Ensure is an energy drink they used to force feed hunger striking prisoners and the Americans had it on display to show their ‘duty of care’.

The detainees brought home and kept the strangest of things, a red cross calendar with the days ticked off. Only the best behaved prisoners would get this because there was a strategy of total disorientation. When prisoners first arrived they had no idea of where they were, what day it was or what time it was.

Then I looked at other bits of people’s homes, especially windows because in Guantanamo they have no windows with a view. There are no views. Being released and being able to choose what to look at, to have a view, is quite a thing. Sometimes people chose not to have a view.

I’m working with Omar Deghayes on an edit of all the letters he received at Guantanamo. When people received letters, they didn’t get the original, they got photocopies or scans of every page, even blank pages, including the front and back of the envelope, each page bearing a document number and a Guantanamo stamp.

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All Images © Edmund Clark

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Coverage of aging prison populations will receive more column inches, online commentary, pixels and pingbacks in the coming years. Just as social security needs overhaul in the US and the pension age is to be raised in the UK, so too new means of fiscal policy are needed to cater for the elderly behind bars … on both sides of the pond.

Edmund Clark’s Still Life: Killing Time is a quiet meditation on the slowness, the fabric and the accoutrements of prison life for elderly inmates. It was two years in the making. This was a hard project to track down. It seems all of Edmund Clark’s promotion is done by others; by publishers, journos, gallerists and supporters. Clark has no website. Clark is as inconspicuous as his subjects.

Clark doesn’t do the commentary for the Guardian‘s Audio Slideshow (MUST SEE). In his absence, Erwin James does a great job of whispering the tragic, hard realities of the prison environment. I include and italicise Erwin’s comments below Clark’s photographs.

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“It saddens me when I see these pictures, these tokens of disablement, the accoutrements of disability; a chair lift, a walking stick, a walking frame. I think that is when I struggle with the idea that these people should be in prison. If someone is demonstrably infirm, demonstrably not functioning well through age or ill health, a prison environment (which this clearly is) is not the appropriate environment.”

It’s worth noting some background to the series. Elderly prison populations only recently became serious noticeable enough for HM Prison Service to trial different modes of containment. The E-Wing of Kingston Prison, Portsmouth was the first experiment. In 2007, upon publication of the book, Erwin James explained;

The answer was Kingston’s E wing. For eight years, this was home to up to 25 elderly men serving life for murder, rape, child sex offences and other offences of violence. The men were aged from their late 50s to over 80. Many had been in prison for more than 10 years, and several for stretches of 30 years or more. E wing as a special facility for elderly prisoners no longer exists. The only other wing dedicated to infirm and disabled prisoners now is in Norwich prison, Norfolk.

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“I think cell bars are a tough one. They offer a difficult vista. When you look through cell bars you are aware that the outside doesn’t belong to you. You’re disengaged. And when you see cell bars with a bit of colour like that – the flower and the card – it’s a bit incongruous. These old guys are still humans.”

But for James, as for myself, and particularly for Clark, this is not about sympathy or compassion for the convicted criminal. It has already been stated that these men are serious criminals. There surely must come a point though when an old man is not the physical threat he once was. Simon Norfolk – a photographer I personally consider one of Britain’s best – wrote for the foreword;

” … why are there bars on the window of a man who can’t walk without a frame. What kind of escape plan can be hatched by a man who can’t remember how to go to the toilet.”

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“This picture for me epitomizes the absurdity, and moments of madness the prison system can have. We are keeping someone in prison, who has dementia. They have basic instruction about how to go to the toilet. If there were ever a case for somebody who needs not to be in prison, it would be for that person.”

The only statement I can find directly from Clark, the photographer, is worth meditation.

What you can see in the pictures is to what extent they are engaged with their routine, and on top of their regime and what sort of engagement they have with time. One man, who wore a long grey beard, coped with the passage of time, as far as I could see, by disengaging with it completely. He spent most of his time sitting in his chair … He just sat and disappeared within himself. After about a year I could go and talk to him, and this man was clever, he’d been a captain in the merchant navy and had sailed around the world. I asked him once what was the best place he’d been to and he lifted his head and said, ‘Sao Paulo, I loved Brazil …’ And then suddenly this life came out, his life was all there, hidden away. The bulldog clock on the book cover belonged to him, it was one of his prized possessions.

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Apparently, Clark created this body of work spurred by reports from the USA about mandatory sentencing under “Three Strikes Laws” and the consequent swelling of America’s prison population. Clark engaged with Britain’s aging prison population in direct response to demographic disasters in American penal policy. Clark elaborates;

People subjected to it [Three Strikes Law] were swelling the ranks of the prison population, with the result that many men sentenced when young would spend the rest of their lives incarcerated. I wondered what the response in the UK was to those incarcerated for many years – the life prisoners, or ‘lifers’, who face an old age and growing infirmity in an institutional environment still ruled by the survival of the fittest.

Clark made his point by seeking out the UK’s first specialised prison facility for aged prisoners and then produced a body of work that is distinctly British. Photographs of Bond posters, a (British?) Bulldog, Red-top clippings of Diana & the Queen, and framed artwork of common birds to British gardens & allotments; these are not obvious clues to a global appreciation of prison culture. I conclude, Clark thinks globally, acts locally.

 

“If you are young and strong prison is manageable on the whole. If you feel weak or infirm or poorly it is a harder place to be and these photographs epitomize the frailty factor, the danger of getting old in prison or being old in prison … My feeling about prison is that it is not a place for old people. Prison is one environment for everybody regardless of your circumstances and so what happens is your survival depends on luck and natural resources. And if you’re old you’re not gonna have as much luck as the younger guys.”

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“There’s a lot of people in the system who know that prison is not a place for old, infirm, disabled people. And its not. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be separated from society, but I am talking about prison as we know it. The common interpretation of prison is landings, wings, cells, prison officers, dogs, security; that whole encapsulation of captivity. If you are infirm there needs to be another place. We are giving extra punishment to the weak people.”

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“There is an argument for separating the old folks from the main prison wing and that is what happened here. It was an experiment. E-Wing. The danger for me is that is becomes a place … you know, they talked of the fetid atmosphere; smelly and hot. The smell of old people. As a society we don’t have a lot of respect for old people.”

Clark’s unambiguous images of mobile aids and instructions for the senile are a clear call for change. His studies of prized-possessions and personal ordering of objects play on emotional responses to depicted vulnerabilities; Clark’s works conspire as a whole (43 images in total) to shape a convincing argument that we should all care about how our prison system accommodates different demographics. The elderly demographic is only growing, only advancing … with time.

As James’ words have served me so well throughout this article I shall close with his take on public opinion.

“I am pleased society is taking this on, because prison is a robust and hostile environment, and in fact the authorities refer to all prisons as hostile environments. That’s how they’re officially termed. That’s not because everyone who goes there are dangerous, but I think prison brings out the worst in a lot of people. It can bring out the best, but often it brings out the worst. And that’s not to say they are bad characters, it’s because people in prison are defensive and they are defensive because they are frightened.”

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All images copyright of Edmund Clark.

Still Life: Killing Time, by Edmund Clark, is published by Dewi Lewis, and avaiable at PhotoEye

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