Sable Elyse Smith: LANDSCAPES & PLAYGROUNDS
featured on the cover of Aperture's spring 2018 issue titled "Prison Nation" with accompanying essay by Jessica Lynne
Most prisons and jails across the United States do not allow prisoners to have access to cameras. At a moment when 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the US, 3.8 million people are on probation, and 870,000 former prisoners are on parole, how can images tell the story of mass incarceration when the imprisoned don’t have control over their own representation? How can photographs visualize a reality that disproportionately affects people of color, and, for many, remains outside of view?
This spring, Aperture magazine will release “Prison Nation,” addressing the unique role photography plays in creating a visual record of this national crisis. Organized with the scholar Nicole R. Fleetwood, this landmark issue will be accompanied by a related exhibition from February 7 through March 7, 2018, as well as a series of six public programs—featuring speakers such as Nigel Poor, Jamel Shabazz, Deborah Luster, Bruce Jackson, Jesse Krimes, Sable Elyse Smith, Joseph Rodriguez, and more—all to take place at Aperture Foundation’s gallery.
Incarceration impacts all of us. “Americans, even those who have never been to a prison or had a relative in prison, need to realize that we are all implicated in a form of governance that uses prison as a solution to many social, economic, and political problems,” Fleetwood notes. Empathy and political awareness are essential to creating systemic change—and through Aperture magazine, and the accompanying exhibition and public programming, “Prison Nation” may provoke us to see parts of ourselves in the lives of those on the inside.
Artist Talk: Sable Elyse Smith
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
Aperture Foundation Gallery, New York
Known for her work across photography, video, poetry, and performance, Sable Elyse Smith is interested in the personal consequences of mass incarceration in the United States. Her recent artist’s book Landscapes & Playgrounds (2017), featured in Aperture’s “Prison Nation” issue, is a meditation on the relationship between an incarcerated father and a daughter, and a form of communication that is embedded in surveillance. Smith’s work has been presented most recently in Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon at the New Museum and in the solo exhibition Ordinary Violence at the Queens Museum in New York. She is a 2018 artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem.