The 75 prisons shown in “Covert” represent less than 1% of the 4,916 throughout the United States. Taken from Google maps the photographs are grainy and innocuous; seen from above they could be industrial parks, shopping centers, schools. By presenting them in this clinical and ambiguous way I hope to show how the vastness of the prison industry is hidden, camouflaged out of consciousness.
“Covert” was exhibited with the text piece “Currency” (see below) at Gallery One One in Cincinnati, Ohio for FotoFocus 2012. Both pieces were an exploration of what it means to take a photograph, as well as a meditation on how photography is used.
the flash of the dead in the living the muddy slope
leading down to the ravine bushes chopped close and flat a mass
of birds turns and dives under the bridge water filling the grate
white paper churning into pulp with the rain
Here is my father’s death certificate; here are his pictures in a ziplock bag.
Keep them until the war is over. Keep them until they come home.
There is a stream of water on the embankment. There is a white mask.
There is a plastic bottle floating downstream. There is a bag over his head.
There is an arc of water spilling down his side. There is the man who has washed
a thousand bodies hosing down the tile. There is a boy’s face risen ghostly
in his mother’s. There is a young woman crossing the street. There is no breath.
There is the paint flaking off a brick wall. There is the bomb. There is the debris.
There is the flicker of electricity, the screetch as the train rounds the corner.
There are the doors clicking shut, the young men stopped in disbelief,
the acrid cloud of smoke. There is the sidewalk. There is the gun aimed
at the gap between the vest and the arm, there is the gun shooting.
There is a flattened patch of grass where a man lies every day.
There is a broom sweeping. There is the boredom, there is the sudden wire
strung between the trees, there are the bridges flashing past.
There is the horizon, there is the blink of an eye, there is the figure
handcuffed and tearful, saying please. There is the swoop and script
of Arabic, there is the plane plummeting icy into the ocean.