Alice Myers

Project Title: Imagining a Polyvocal Prison Image Archive

This project proposes new ways of visualising prisons and prisoners through socially engaged photographic practice. I will work with prisoners and other stakeholders to imagine what a collaborative prison image archive might look like.

Photographic and archival technologies have played an important role in the evolution and maintenance of modern prisons. These spaces are extreme manifestations of isolation and inequality in society. It is crucial that photographic practice in this context contests simplistic narratives, leading to more complex representations of people who normally have no control over whether and how they appear in public photographic records.

When addressing photographic representation collaboratively, there is a risk of re-enforcing existing power imbalances even when attempting to challenge them. This project makes use of the photographic archive as a useful structure through which to highlight power dynamics as integral to every stage of the collaborative creative process. The form, location, content and structure of the archive will be decided with participants, creating opportunities to consider questions surrounding exclusion, representation and control. This process will open up new understandings of the relationship between photography and power while expanding possibilities for visualising spaces of incarceration and the experiences of those inside them.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Visual Culture, Art Practice & Theory

University: Glasgow School of Art

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