266 | The Punitive Image of the State

For our episode this week, we share the second of a two-part conversation between Nicole Fleetwood and Micol Seigel. Fleetwood’s recent book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, is a wide-ranging exploration of visual art made by people in prison.

Fleetwood explains “I started working on this book as a way to deal with the grief about so many of my relatives, neighbors, and childhood friends who were spending years, decades, or life sentences in prison. It was also an effort to connect with others who are separated from their loved ones by prisons, parole, policed streets, and other forms of institutional and quotidian violence.”

In their conversation, they talk about the role of photography within the carceral system, which Fleetwood describes as the “punitive image of the State”. This emphasizes the negative dimension of photography, especially the role of mugshots and its history of racist and repressive uses against marginalized people. But Fleetwood also speaks to its positive pole, which includes sharing photographs with loved ones who are inside.

In this episode, we mention a video of a prison guard beating a prisoner. You can view this video here. Please note this video contains physical violence.

Fight Toxic Prisons has asked for supporters to call the New Orleans ICE office and demand that immigrant detention centers take necessary precautions as Tropical Storm Ida bears down on Louisiana. Last year, detainees were left stranded without food, water or medicine. New Orleans ICE can be reached at (504) 599-7800

We end the episode with an excerpt from an interview with George Jackson. You can listen to the full interview here.

You can read the call for support from Fight Toxic Prisons here.

You can listen to the first part of the conversation between Nicole and Micol here.