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Amy Elkins wins Aperture Portfolio Prize

  • Ignacio Cuevas, execution #39, age 59, 2014 © Amy Elkins

    Ignacio Cuevas, execution #39, age 59, 2014 © Amy Elkins

  • Elliot Johnson, execution #24, age 38, 2014 © Amy Elkins

    Elliot Johnson, execution #24, age 38, 2014 © Amy Elkins

  • Vincent Gutierrez, execution #389, age 28, 2014 © Amy Elkins

    Vincent Gutierrez, execution #389, age 28, 2014 © Amy Elkins

  • Nineteen Years Out of a Life Sentence (Sky), 2011. A pen pal serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in a supermax prison (in solitary) described being able to see the sky through a metal grated skylight in the small concrete exercise area he was permitted to be in alone for one hour a day. The additional twenty-three hours were spent in isolation. This image was constructed out of his description of the open sky he wished to see, using appropriated images, which were then composited to account for the amount of years spent in prison © Amy Elkins

    Nineteen Years Out of a Life Sentence (Sky), 2011. A pen pal serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in a supermax prison (in solitary) described being able to see the sky through a metal grated skylight in the small concrete exercise area he was permitted to be in alone for one hour a day. The additional twenty-three hours were spent in isolation. This image was constructed out of his description of the open sky he wished to see, using appropriated images, which were then composited to account for the amount of years spent in prison © Amy Elkins

  • 26/44 (Not the Man I Once Was), 2011. Portrait of a man twenty-six years into his death row sentence where the ratio of years spent in prison to years alive determined the level of image loss © Amy Elkins

    26/44 (Not the Man I Once Was), 2011. Portrait of a man twenty-six years into his death row sentence where the ratio of years spent in prison to years alive determined the level of image loss © Amy Elkins

American photographer Amy Elkins wins 2014 Aperture Portfolio Prize

Los Angeles-based photographer Amy Elkins is the recipient of this year’s Aperture Portfolio Prize. Elkins, who is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, wins with two bodies of work, Parting Words and Black is the Day, Black is the Night.

Both projects “stem from Elkins’s explorations of the issues surrounding capital punishment and her participation in letter exchanges with inmates serving death-row sentences,” writes Lesley A. Martin on the Aperture website (www.aperture.org/portfolio-prize/2014-winners/winner-amy-elkins).

On her own website (www.amyelkins.com) Elkins describes Parting Words as “a visual archive of the 500 plus prisoners to date executed in the state of Texas.” The series features black-and-white portraits and mugshots of executed men and women. Each image is constructed from the repetition of the prisoner’s final words.

Black is the Day, Black is the Night expands some of the topics of Parting Words. Elkins exchanged letters with prisoners on death row and interspersed these letters with images she created based on the correspondence. The series also features portraits of inmates whose faces are pixelated to various degrees depending on how long they have been incarcerated.

On her website Elkins describes the series as “a conceptual exploration into the many facets of human identity using notions of time, accumulation, memory and distance.”

Elkins receives $3,000 and an exhibition hosted by Aperture Gallery. The runners up are: Matt Eich, Davide Monteleone, Sadie Wechsler, and Max Pinckers (who was featured in BJP last year).

12 Aperture staff members reviewed close to 1000 Portfolio Prize entries.

Elkins work is on display until 17 May as part of Cast at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Centre. www.philaphotoarts.org/event/cast

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