10, 11, 12, 13 & 14, Green Hill, (2000). Image © Steve Davis.
14 Sep 2011
Spotlight on crowdfunding: Prison Photography on the Road
Peter Brook, the man behind the Prison Photography blog, dedicates his time to the analysis of photography in sites of incarceration. Now he's taking his work on America's roads
"We live in an age when we're saturated by images," says Brook. "It occurs to me that the majority of those that we see are designed to sell us something. Every image is political, I guess, so all analysis of images should also be political. I think the politics of prison is something that gets overlooked and I think there needs to be a continuing and fresh debate."
Since October 2008, Brook has been writing about photography and prison on the aptly named Prison Photography blog [http://prisonphotography.wordpress.com/]. "I'm talking about photography, but really I'm talking about prison. I'm using photography as an entry point in the discussion."
Now, he's taking his blog on the road."I'm going to be interviewing over two dozens photographers, who, at some point in the past 40 years, have photographed in and around prisons. It's a continuation of my enquiries on the reality of prison life in America. That 40-year period is the time in which mass-incarceration has been put in place in America."
He adds: "But, I didn't think it would be enough just to have interviews with photographers. There has to be a counterpoint or a balance to that, so I will be interviewing leaders in prison arts, prison education, law and prison rights advocacy."
Brook is using Kickstarter to raise funds to finance his work. "The typical Kickstarter usually has a product, something tangible that people can touch. Now, I'm going to be producing a book, but that's a side issue. It's one of the incentive for my supporters. The real product of this project will be the archive of my audio interviews, which will be in excess of 40 interviews. And all of my writing from the road. All of this will be accessible with a creative commons license."
For Brook, it made sense to let his work be used freely (under a creative commons license. "I'm only able to do this trip because of the generosity of others. So, it didn't seem right that I would maintain control or deride financial benefits indefinitely. I firmly believe that if anything is going to change, particularly in prison reform, than it's going to be through collective action. The mood of the project is one of engagement and sharing - not of ownership. It also fits with how I operate my blog."
With 14 days to go on Kickstarter, Brook has already raised more than $5500 - but he needs an additional $2000 to secure his funding to start his work. Find out how you can contribute on his Kickstarter page.
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