Patarei Prison, Tallinn, Estonia

In Tallinn we were lucky enough to join the off-season tour of Patarei prison. The stone building opened its doors in 1840 as a sea fortress that included a cannon battery (hence the name: Patarei – Battery). It later served as an army barracks, and, for most of its history, as a notorious Soviet prison. Now the cells is filled by awkward teenagers on a school tour, happy to get lost in the dark and make out. Their giggles added an extra layer of chill to the stories about prisoners taken out from the shower queue in the morning to be shot.

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Windows from Prisons USA

My teacher told me about this – Windows from Prisons – this is an amazing project that combines the two things I am passionate about, damn, I wish I had thought of that myself 🙂

In America they really seem to be into their community support prison programs. Of course they’d want to be, with the highest incarceration rate in the world. Nonetheless, the fact that some many ordinary people get behind these project, communicate and connect, that I admire.

Windows From Prison* is an ongoing project that uses photography as a way to connect incarcerated men, women, and teens to their past while creating space and humanistic entry points for students, faculty, NGO’s, family members of incarcerated individuals, former prisoners, and policy makers to engage with the sources, impacts, and alternatives to mass incarceration.

Beginning with creative writing workshops with incarcerated men, women, and teens, the project asks:

“If you could have window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?”

These responses become photo requests that are collaboratively produced by students, former prisoners, artists, activists, and many others.

Do check them out http://www.windowsfromprison.com/

And here’s an article in the Guardian with more photos.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/aug/05/windows-from-prison-view-jail-cells-project-us-inmates-in-pictures#comments

Josh Begley: “If the U.S. is in the business of warehousing black and brown bodies, I think it’s important to sketch the contours of what that means.”

Prison Photography

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I was invited by WIRED to write about Josh Begley‘s work Prison Map. The article is Aerial Photos Expose the American Prison System’s Staggering Scale:

There are some 2.2 million people behind bars in the United States. That’s more people than there are in all of New Mexico. And there are more jails and prisons than colleges and universities in this country. Still, it can be difficult to grasp the scale of incarceration in America, in part because so many of these facilities are tucked away far from view in rural areas.

Prison Map provides a sense of the enormity of it all by giving us a fascinating vantage point from which to view the architecture of incarceration. Begley’s created a vast visual compendium of the nation’s jails and prisons, comprising more than 5,300 aerial images that offer a compelling metaphor for the rapid expansion of the American…

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