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Ryan Lobo talked about three of his projects at a recent TED conference. The first story Lobo told stopped me in my tracks.

Lobo photographed Joshua, a man formerly known as General Buttnaked, who had committed heinous crimes against humanity during Liberia’s civil war. Joshua is now a baptised evangelist and as he entered villages across Liberia again, he did so not to destroy them but to ask for forgiveness.

The level of forgiveness that he asks for is galling to the Western mind. 10,000 lives. The ask itself is cruel.

During the war Joshua fought naked (hence the name). He murdered, raped and tortured thousands of Liberians. He corrupted hundreds of youngsters inducting them into war, enforcing his command over the boy-soldiers with unspeakable brutality. They are now destitute; many addicted to drugs. Heroin is commonly abused.

Joshua spoke from a soap box to crowds often including his victims. Lobo admits he thought Joshua would be killed by the mob in a short time after beginning the tour.

But Joshua was not killed.

How do we tally this story of redemption (if that term is not obnoxious in this instance) and this version of restorative engagement between perpetrator and victim with our Western codes of justice?

And as Lobo asks, does forgiveness replace justice?

I have no answers.

cooleh

Fearful Symmetry

Sorry, more self-promotion. For Cooleh magazine, I rewrote old speculations on the non-existent genre of prison photography. I discuss the visual vocabulary of prison photography and the slipperiness of cliche depending on the experience of the camera operator.

The editor confirmed it for me though: It was the strength of the images by nameless inmates of Remann Hall youth detention facility that carried the story! Fearful Symmetry is part of Cooleh’s 14th issue which takes a story-based, raw and somewhat irreverent angle on crime; politics of crime in jamaica, urban pot growers, secession states, botched 7/11 robberies and interviews with the unheard.

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I found this via Wooster Collective who provide good daily visual feeds.

Info from the JUSTICE Flickr set. All images from JUSTICE Flickr set.

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JUSTICE, a concept show based on themes of Law and Order, is the hard endeavours of 5 artists; C215, Dan23, Bruno Leyval, Least Wanted and MC1984.

Traveling to Bristol from France and New York to build JUSTICE, featuring site specific installations, photography, prints, stencils and a range of new original work.

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All the artists have a strong collective interest in the plights of minority cultures, human rights, freedom, homelessness and the vacuous subject of law and order, and Justice will display the combined aesthetic of these interests placed within the oppressive environment of Bridewell Police Station’s cells.

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As well as the Old Bridewell Police Cells, the show was at The Long Arm Gallery, Bridewell Street, Bristol, BS1 3PY.

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prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com

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