Carceral Aesthetics: Vision and Imprisonment
|Date||Apr 18, 2018|
How does artistic production shape our understanding of America’s carceral state and render its crisis visible? Join us for a conversation with Ruby Tapia, Nicole Fleetwood, and Moliere Dimanche on issues of aesthetics, visibility, and photography vis-a-vis American prisons.
Nicole R. Fleetwood is associate professor in the department of American Studies at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She is co-curator and contributing editor of Prison Nation, a special issue of Aperture magazine on the role of photography in documenting mass incarceration. She also recently completed a book on art and mass incarceration that will be released in 2019. Her two previous books are Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (2011) and On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (2015). Fleetwood is the recipient of awards and fellowships from New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, American Council of Learned Societies, Whiting Foundation, Schomburg Center for Scholars-in-Residence, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts.
Ruby C. Tapia is associate professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. Her work engages the intersections of photography theory, feminist and critical race theory, and critical prison studies. She is co-editor of Interrupted Life: Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United States (University of California, 2010) and author of American Pietàs: Visions of Race, Death, and the Maternal (University of Minnesota, 2011). Her current book project examines prison photography for what she terms the “abject sentimentality of the exception” in visual registers of carceral humanism. Her courses include Carceral Visualities; Gender, Race, and Incarceration; and The Prison in Literature, Photography, and the Moving Image. She has facilitated creative writing workshops via the Prison Creative Arts Project at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Michigan and is a member of the Theory Group Think Tank at Macomb Correctional Facility for men.
Combining art, politics, and criminal justice, Moliere Dimanche uses a form of art he calls a “Moliere expression.” While incarcerated in the Florida prison system, he captured his experiences and those of others that he bore witness to. His pieces put a spotlight on the ugly faces of racism, injustice, and corruption.
Dimanche served eight and a half years within the gates of the Florida prison system. He is self-taught in art and has incorporated this additional skill to convey the teachings of race relations and misuse of office in his writings. He is the author of the book It Takes a Criminal to Know One (2016).