Culture / Art Republik

Black is the Day, Black is the Night

Amy Elkins’s exploration of isolation

May 05, 2014 | By Staff Writer

Amy Elkins’s series Black is the Day, Black is the Night is a “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.” 

Elkins wondered how the men faced questions about their own mortality, often in total isolation. She says on her website “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?”

Throughout the project, Elkins kept in touch with the prisoners in isolation, leading to a form of collaboration between artist and subject. “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.” 

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Find out more at Amy Elkins’s website here!

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