Alyse Emdur: Prison Landscapes

Prison Landscapes by Alyse Emdur, The Last Brucennial, photography, prisonsPrison Landscapes by Alyse Emdur, The Last Brucennial, photography, prisonsPrison Landscapes by Alyse Emdur, The Last Brucennial, photography, prisonsDan and I went to The Last Brucennial this past weekend and in the midst of the fun chaos that is the show, we spotted some work that really stood out for us. Among these were two large photos by Alyse Emdur which elicited several emotions at once: confusion; laughter; and sadness. And that was before I even googled the artist to find out more about these! We assumed the artist had placed the bizarre murals in these depressing office spaces/institutions, but as it turns out, they all truly exist in this manner. Prison Landscapes as the series, as well as book, is called, is a collection of photographs of prison waiting rooms, that typically have backdrops—often painted by the inmates themselves—which are used as portrait set-ups for the inmates and their visitors to pose in front of for photos. These idealized landscapes offer a brief escape…a chance to pretend that they are somewhere else. Emdur invited hundreds of prisoners to send in their photos for inclusion in her book Prison Landscapes which was initially inspired by a photograph she found in 2005 of herself at age five, posing in front of a tropical beach scene while visiting her brother in prison. Poignant and at the same time a little unintentionally humorous.

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