If we are to understand the full scope of the Prison Industrial Complex with regards to space and design we must be able to see it. In my experience thus far digital cameras, video and recording devices of any kind are hard to get in never mind physical access to the spaces themselves. How can we seek to re-invision and diminish the existence of these spaces if we cannot use the power of images to convey our message?
This week I was sitting with Brad Grant, the director of Howard University’s School of Architecture discussing a recent award Barb Toews and I have received from the Fetzer Institute. The award will help us to build a stakeholder group around our development of toolkit that would help those working and living in incarcerated spaces to re-envision them for restorative justice rather than punishment. He expressed Fetzers interest in having marketable images of this exemplar to use in their promotional materials, presentations and exhibits. I felt frustrated since I knew how challenging this would be for us but was hopeful when I returned to my office to see a link to the Prison Photography website and Katherine Fontaine’s recent post on “Sketching prison cells as an act of resistance.”
I was reassured when I saw this post and site that there are many of us across different disciplines trying to bring to light the destructive and damaging condition of our prison industrial complex. Our hope with the toolkit for working with incarcerated men, women and staff is that it will contribute to the efforts of Prison Photography by providing them with the confidence and tools to record these spaces in any way they can.