Parsons Photo Faculty Jeanine Oleson’s ongoing art and activism project “Photo Requests from Solitary” will be exhibiting work at Photoville this year. The project is a continuation of work supported by Parsons School of Design.
“Photo Requests from Solitary” invites men and women held in long-term solitary confinement to request a photograph of anything at all, real or imagined, and finds artists to make the images. The resulting photographs provide an archive of the hopes, memories, and interests of people who endure extreme isolation and sensory deprivation.
Instead of describing or replicating the bleak conditions in which these individuals live, “Photo Requests from Solitary” presents what they envision—the vivid and varied thoughts/objects/images that all minds produce, independently of senses and circumstances. Rather than implying that images are ‘missing’ from their lives and need to be provided from the outside, the project affirms that images are already there, part of their total world. People in solitary give us their images, and we give them back as photographs, in an artistic partnership that acknowledges our shared creativity and humanity.
The photographs on display at Photoville were taken for people in solitary confinement in New York who spend 22 to 24 hours a day in small cells without meaningful human contact, in conditions that the UN has defined as torture. More than 4,500 individuals are currently held in some form of isolation in New York’s prisons and jails, and some will remain there for months, years, or decades.
For more information about this exhibition, visit http://photoville.com/photo-requests-solitary/