Women in [Prison] Photography
Curated by Pete Brook
In the past 40 years, America’s prison population has more than quadrupled from under 500,000 to over 2.3 million. This program of mass incarceration is unprecedented in human history. Women have born the brunt of this disastrous growth. Within that fourfold increase, the female prison population has increased eightfold. You heard right: women are incarcerated today at eight times the number they were in the early 1970s. Are women really eight times more dangerous as they were two generations ago?
Pete Brook is a freelance writer who focuses on the politics of visual culture and issues of social justice in photography. Since 2008, he has published writing about imagery produced within and about prisons on his own website Prison Photography. In 2011, Prison Photography was awarded a LIFE.com Photoblog Award and it was recommended among the Top Ten Best Photoblogs by the British Journal of Photography. For two years, Pete volunteered as an art teacher and working board member with University Beyond Bars, Seattle, WA. During the Autumn of 2011, Pete completed a 12-week, crowdfunded road-trip for which he interviewed photographers who’ve documented the rise of America’s prison industrial complex. He is co-curator for Cruel and Unusual, an exhibition of prison photography at the Noorderlicht Gallery, Holland (Feb-Apr 2012). He contributes regularly to Raw File, Wired.com’s photography blog. Pete is interested in how images are manufactured, distributed and consumed. Pete lives in Portland, Oregon.