Photo Requests from Solitary

Tamms Year Ten, Parsons The New School for Design, Solitary Watch, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, with support from the Open Society Foundations, Present

Photo Requests from Solitary

Featuring photographs that represent a unique collaboration between men held in supermax prisons and the photographers who fulfilled their requests.

Curated by Laurie Jo Reynolds, Tamms Year Ten, Jeanine Oleson, Parsons The New School for Design, and Jean Casella, Solitary Watch.

What would a person in complete isolation want to see? Men in solitary confinement at Tamms supermax prison in Illinois were asked to request a photograph of anything in the world, real or imagined, and Tamms Year Ten found photographers to make the images. The responses included the place where the Robert Taylor Homes used to be, a gray and white warmblood horse rearing in cold air and a lovesick clown with an old-fashioned feather pen.

“Photo Requests from Solitary” features some of these photographs, along with the unfilled requests from the next phase of the project in New York and California, where thousands of men, women, and children live in extreme isolation and sensory deprivation in state prisons and local jails.
The exhibit will be staffed by survivors of solitary confinement, family members of individuals in prison, and advocates from the New York Campaign Against Isolated Confinement, as well as students from Parsons The New School for Design. Visitors can ask questions and take action to end the use of prolonged isolation in New York. The men who requested the photographs and chose their subjects have been held in isolation in supermax prisons, some for more than a decade. A variety of artists volunteered to take photographs based on their requests.

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Panel: Photo Requests From Solitary

Laurie Jo Reynolds, who was awarded a 2013 Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change by Creative Time, is an artist , policy advocate and the organizer of Tamms Year Ten, the grassroots coalition that successfully worked to close Illinois’ notorious Tamms supermax prison and initiated the Photo Requests from Solitary project. Jeanine Oleson is an artist, assistant professor of photography at Parsons the New School for Design, and coordinator of the New York Photos from Solitary project. Jean Casella is co-director of Solitary Watch, a web-based journalism project aimed at exposing and documenting this hidden domestic human rights issue. This exhibition is supported by the Open Society Documentary Photography Project, which explores how photography can engage and mobilize people around issues of justice and human rights.

Open Society



Solitary Watch