Crave Online: Curator Pete Brook Looks at the Prison Industrial Complex From the Inside Out
A stark reminder than out of sight should not mean out of mind when it comes to the system abuses of power that manifest in the U.S. prison system. Continue Reading »

The Portland Mercury: Prison Obscura Shines a Light on Art Behind Bars
Despite housing the largest prison population in the world, the US system of incarceration is largely invisible to those outside of it. Curator Pete Brook is working to change this with the touring group show Prison Obscura, which has its final stop in Portland at Newspace Center for Photography. Prison Obscura combines portraiture, collaborative photography, collected aerial images of prisons, and legal documents to make the experience of incarceration exactly what the prison industrial complex aims for it not to be: personal and visible. Continue Reading »

New York Times: Artists Grapple With America’s Prison System
For several weeks in February and March, the Whitney Museum’s fifth-floor gallery has been drenched in the slamming of gates, the rattling of keys and the bellowing of prisoners and guards. The artist Andrea Fraser recorded the sounds at Sing Sing, the infamous prison 34 miles up the Hudson River, then fed them into a gallery that’s roughly the same size as the prison’s A Block. Continue Reading » Shooting Time: An Exhibition of Photos from US Prisons Opens in Portland
“It’s a human rights abuse,” says Pete Brook, curator of Prison Obscura, a group exhibition opening at Newspace Center for Photography on Friday, April 1. “Nobody uses prisons like America uses prisons. Nobody throws away vast swaths of its society like America.”

He’s talking about the more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in America, a number that, according to one report, is almost four times what it was in 1980. Continue Reading »

The Stranger: Prison Obscura Is a Glimpse at the Most Enormous American Underground That Has Ever Existed
When I was captioning the above photograph, I wasn’t sure whether to credit the artist as Alyse Emdur.

Emdur is the artist who gathered and commissioned hundreds of photographs taken in prisons like this one. So in many ways, she is the artist, period. (They’re compiled in a book.)

She’s also an artist by training, and she was inspired to do this project when she came across a photograph of her 5-year-old self with her incarcerated brother. She wondered why they were posing in front of a tropical beach scene. Continue Reading » ‘Prisons Are Man-Made…. They Can Be Unmade’
PRISONS IN AMERICA OFTEN HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT, even as writer and curator Pete Brook tells me prisons are “central to the American identity.” He couldn’t be more right. The United States incarcerates more human beings than any country on earth, even authoritarian countries such as Russia, Iran, and China. The price tag for this, which doesn’t count the senseless suffering or degradation of our ideals, is an astronomical $80 billion a year. Often, our prison-first mentality disproportionately and unjustly targets communities of color, in effect hollowing out neighborhoods, families, and individual lives. Black people, for instance, are incarcerated for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of white people, even though both racial groups use illicit drugs at roughly the same rate. Continue Reading »

The Creators Project: This Is What Art Made by Prisoners Looks Like
Even if you watch Orange is the New Black religiously, chances are your encounters with everyday prison life are limited. Even cursory image searches for “US prisons” and “prison industrial complex” result in a disportionate amount of caricatures and stock photography, versus actual snapshots of what life is like for millions all over the world. Freelance writer and curator Pete Brook, the founder of the Prison Photography blog, would argue that the distance between society and prison life is problematic. In order to investigate what he calls “the culture of incarceration,” he’s bringing traveling exhibition, Prison Obscura, to the Sheila Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Continue Reading »

Clocktower Radio: Pete Brook, Prison Obscura
Jeannie Hopper sits down with Prison Photography editor and curator Pete Brook, Director/Chief Curator of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design Radhika Subramaniam, and Associate Director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and Campus Exhibitions at Haverford College Matthew Seamus Callinan, to discuss Brook’s touring exhibition Prison Obscura, a presentation of rarely seen vernacular, surveillance, evidentiary, and prisoner-made photographs. Listen »

Photographer Wants To Open Your Eyes To The Brutal Realities Of The American Prison Complex
When discussing the contemporary state of the prison industrial complex in America, the numbers are frightening. The personal stories, however, are far more horrific. In the month of July alone, at least five black women were found dead in jail. There are numerous tales of grisly murders, suicides, rapes, beatings, and prisoners being denied medication and proper medical treatment, dying as a result. Each story is more chilling than the last. Continue Reading »

FEATURE SHOOT RECOMMENDS: Top 10 Photo Events and Happenings in New York (FEB. 9 – 15)
Pete Brook, editor of Prison Photography, curates this collection of images that investigate the realities of prison life, including surveillance footage and photographs created by inmates themselves. Continue Reading »

Le Monde: « Prison Map », quand un « data artist » tire le portrait du parc carcéral américain
Le projet « Prison Map » gagne en visibilité, or rendre visible la prison est tout son propos. Son concepteur, Josh Begley, 30 ans, est un « data artist » et depuis peu journaliste pour The Intercept, un magazine en ligne créé il y a près d’un an pour présenter les documents sur la NSA révélés par Edward Snowden, et qui est spécialisé dans les enquêtes sur la surveillance globale par les Etats-Unis. Continue Reading »

In These Times: ‘Lives lived behind bars are too often invisible’: Pete Brook’s ‘Prison Photography’ on display
Pete Brook is a British, Portland, Ore.-based writer and curator of the excellent blog Prison Photography. In his words, that blog is built, first, on the premise that “the United States needs to pursue large-scale prison and sentencing reform,” and second, on the idea that cameras in prisons provide an excellent viewpoint from which to consider how such sentencing reform might happen. Continue Reading »

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Gut-wrenching photo evidence from Brown vs. Plata in ‘Prison Obscura’
The United States is a world leader in a lot of areas. Perhaps most disconcerting is our dominance in the area of incarceration. More than 2 million people currently reside in America’s prisons and jails, a figure that has more than quadrupled since 1980, due to mandatory sentencing laws, among other factors. It is an area of our society that has experienced explosive growth, yet it is one that most Americans rarely see. Continue Reading »

The Student Life: ‘Prison Obscura’ Exhibition Questions American Jails
Prison Obscura, an exhibition at Scripps College’s Clark Humanities Museum, focuses on the rarely seen aspects of the American prison industrial complex. On display since Sept. 2, the collection features photographs taken by prisoners, breathtakingly gritty portraits, letters written by inmates and several other media to build the case that Americans need to question their prison system more widely. Continue Reading » Photo exhibit offers look into the lives of prisoners
Bob Gumpert tried for years to get into jail.

But it’s hard if you don’t commit a crime – and you want to bring a camera and recorder with you.

“They don’t like photographers to come in, especially those who come in and say, ‘I just want you to let me in and not have any editorial control over what I’m doing,’ ” said the San Francisco-based photographer. Continue Reading »

theartblog: Prison Obscura at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery
You begin with tangible material–concrete, chain-link, cement. Then move through the imaginary, faux-photo backdrops, dreams, desires. All the while, you are immersed in the physical and mental world of contemporary prison life, viewing both reality and reality hoped for. Continue Reading »

Broad Street Review: Prison stories
My father used to say: “I’ve always paid my taxes, voted in every election, and never went to jail.” He meant it as a touchstone in measuring good citizenship. But I would think, “Well great, except that truly noble persons have gone to prison.” Continue Reading »

5 Intriguing Things_ Thursday, 1_23
Hackneyed and clichéd photos of razor wire, anonymous silhouettes, and hands through bars serve stock photography agency sales more than they do informed debate. But, we mustn’t give up on images. Continue Reading »

Alyse Endur’s book Prison Landscapes is a large photographic compilation of prison inmates presenting themselves in front of visiting room backdrops. Continue Reading »

PDN Photo of the Day Prison Obscura
Photos are taken in prison every day, thanks to ever present surveillance cameras. But how would the men and women whose every act is scrutinized by their jailers choose to be represented if they could control how they are photographed and depicted? Continue Reading »