New Criticals

To those outside of the prison, it is a dark chamber, a camera obscura. To those inside, it is all light and there are few places to hide. The irony is that in this heart of darkness, they are most visible, always watched. Like photographs, the prisoners are captured, inverted, rendered silent, frozen in time and place, but never developed. Light is not allowed in, nor is it allowed out. It is a black hole that has become a closed system.

The images of Prison Obscura attempt to create an aperture between prison and society, reminding that those trapped inside do retain a voice, a face, a time, a place. Through the process of objectification that is photography, a subjectivity emerges, an identity, a recognition, not only the identity of the prisoner, but the identity of the viewer. The negative is negated, and from this, a possible positivity. It is an inversion of the inversion, which perhaps leads to some semblance of standing upright.

Prison Obscura is on view at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Keller Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (13th St. and 5th Ave.) through April 17th. Open daily 12:00-6:00pm, Thursday evenings until 8:00pm. Free.