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A few things emerging today to which I’d like to doff my cap.

Lenscratch

Aline Smithson at Lenscratch, rumoured to be in Santa Fe (Good Luck, Aline), celebrated all Lori Waselchuk’s documentary work; Waterlines, one project of many projects wrapped up in Louisiana, and Grace Before Dying community portrait of the Prison Hospice at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola).

Lock Down Visit. Lori Waselchuk

Lock Down Visit. Lori Waselchuk

Lori, a member of the New Orleans Photo Alliance, launched her project Grace Before Dying April 3rd at the Louisiana State Prison Museum in conjunction with the Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (LMHPCO), the Louisiana State Prison Museum, and helped along with a Distribution Grant from the Documentary Photography Project of the Open Society Institute and Moonshine Studio.

The issues of age and health in prisons – together and in isolation – have been reasonably well covered. But, Waselchuk succeeds where so many others fail (with the exception of Edmund Clark) in really communicating the infirmity and vulnerability of the inmates

Fraction offered a good summary, as does Waselchuk’s Alma Mater. Critical Mass has the best gallery of Grace Before Dying

Bint PhotoBooks on Internet

Bint PhotoBooks on Internet got to grips with Martin RoemersRelics of the Cold War which includes a Valencia orange room within a Stasi Prison. Roemers goes tête-à-tête with the Fuchs brothers in the communist-archaeology-photo genre.

Germany, East Berlin. Visitor-room in former Stasi prison Hohenschoenhausen. Political prisoners were held in this prison. Martin Roemers

Germany, East Berlin. Visitor-room in former Stasi prison Hohenschoenhausen. Political prisoners were held in this prison. Martin Roemers

Unrelated to prisons, I am also a fan of Roemers’ Lourdes Pilgrims series.

Subjectify

Subjectify grapples with the latent appropriation of images since the 2004 release of Abu Ghraib photographs.

much has been written about the ways in which war photography often echoes iconic religious imagery.  but i have been wondering how, in turn, the iconography of the new war and torture photography is also influencing fine art photographers today?

Subjectify offers Jessica Somer‘s work ‘Origin’ from the Bend So Not to Break series as a case in point. I drew some interest along with disbelief and derision when I skirted the issue regarding Ballen and the torture aesthetic.

Origin. Jessica Somers

Origin. Jessica Somers

I believe artists biggest problem is to work away from viewers natural tendency to superimpose meaning so easily. I think Somers is safe. She’s got a style that stands on its own – it doesn’t get drowned out by media noise or green gloves.

AN Other

Yusuf Sayman‘s work on individuals going through Re-entry programs after long term prison sentences presented itself in the Independent‘s bizarre and confused “Britain’s Best Crime Photography” competition.

Starlene from the Free Again: Starlene series. Yusuf Sayman

Starlene from the Free Again: Starlene series. Yusuf Sayman

Starlene Patterson is one of three former prisoners, Sayman has collaborated with after prison release for the Free Again series. Starlene is at college to qualify as a Social worker. “People need help.”

Starlene has written a book, Up Against the Wall. She says, “My book has a message. There’s a lot of young people who need guidance and they my not have that. If my book can help one [of those children] than I’ve achieved.”

Non-prison related I like Sayman’s Henry’s World series.

© Stephan Sahm, from the series 'My Cage is My Castle'

© Stephan Sahm, from the series 'My Cage is My Castle'

It takes something special to jolt me from my ‘prison-photo-myopia’.

The European Prize of Architectural Photography has the most cohesive group of fine art photography winners and honorable mentions I’ve seen in the past five years. The theme was “New Homeland”. Each photographer has four prints as representative works and each mini-set is a treat!

Outstanding quality.

© Jacky Longstaff

© Jacky Longstaff

You can browse the links provided below, but first see the 2009 Prize Winners Gallery.

Photographers formally recognised are Stephan Sahm, Tim Griffith, Jacky Longstaff, Freudenberger & Bachmeier, Kai-Uwe Gundlach, Frank Meyl, Szymon Necki, Menno Aden, Johanna Ahlert, Nicolas Briffod, Judith Buss, Walter Fogel, Andreas Fragel, Matthieu Gafsou, Benjamin Gerull, Juri Gottschall, Hanna Kohl, Shimizu Ken, Meike Hansen, Jonas Holthaus, Werner Huthmacher, Christian Kain, Sally-Ann Norman, Florian Profitlich, Andrew Phelps, Martin Richter, Martin Roemers, Michael Schnabel, Marcus Schwier, Michael van den Bogaard.

I was only aware of Fragel, Gafsou and Phelps previously.

© Frank Meyl

© Frank Meyl

© Matthieu Gafsou

© Matthieu Gafsou

© Marcus Schwier

© Marcus Schwier

© Kal Uwe Gundlach

© Kal Uwe Gundlach

I suppose if I were to push for a relation of any of these works to ‘Photography Within Sites of Incarceration’ I would want to begin a dialogue on Sahm’s Hamster-Pop representations of confinement. Sahm was the grand prize winner.

With Jurgen Chill winning two years ago, and the presumed associations of borders and immigration within the theme of “New Homeland”, the European Prize of Architectural Photography apparently rewards photography that emphasises the psychological impact of architectural forms on its users/subjects – in which, notions of containment and non-containment are central.

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I am aware Prison Photography has been preoccupied with fine art depictions of prison space recently and I intend to redress this genre imbalance in the coming weeks with more documentary works.

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