Black is the Day, Black is the Night
Black is the Day, Black is the Night is conceptual exploration into the many facets of human identity using notions of time, accumulation, memory and distance through personal correspondence with men serving life and death row sentences in some of the most maximum security prisons in the U.S., all of which had served between 13-26 years at point of contact.
"I have asked myself if I have rather become so used to the company of my solitude that I no longer feel the passing of years and instead am grateful to have life pass with my every moment of existence as if the years were simply minutes."
On average these men spend 22-1/2 hours a day in solitary cells roughly 6’x9’; not only facing their own mortality, but doing so in total isolation. I often wondered how that would impact one’s notion of reality, of self-identity or even of their own memories outside of such an environment? Did they embrace the mind of a dreamer, the mind of a thinker or succumb to their bleak environment and allow mental, physical and emotional collapse? Did their violent impulses land them in an infinite state of vulnerability? I began writing several men to look into these complex ideas and ask first hand the impacts of such severe isolation.
Out of our letters a collaboration unfolded. I constructed images using formulas specific to each of their stories, age and years incarcerated. Through these formulas their portraits became more unrecognizable and their memories became more muddled, regurgitated and fictional with the endless passing years of their sentence. Stripped of personal context and placed in solitary cells, their sense of identity, memory and time couldn’t help but mutate. I sent these images to them, they would critique them. This went on for years. Of the seven men I originally wrote, I remain in touch with one who has been in solitary confinement since 1995 for a crime committed at 16. One was released in 2010 at the age of 30 (after 15 years in prison), three eventually opted out, one was executed in 2009, another executed in 2012.