Between 1990 and 2001, Chicago’s gifted and gutsy documentary photographer Lloyd DeGrane went on the adventure of his life, going inside the walls of Cook County Jail and Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet, shooting the entire world of incarceration from beginning to end, from the captors to the captives, and from the grinding oppressive tedium to the specks of creativity and wisdom. DeGrane’s black-and-white images show it like it is, without sensation, sentimentality or apology, allowing us to realize that prison is an unredeemed negative environment, but also a place where people live and do many of the things that those on the outside do as a matter of course. Interspersed among the seventy-five shots are texts by bank robber-inmate Simon “Sam” Gutierrez, whose portrait reveals an intelligent and perceptive man who has retained his self-possession. Gutierrez cuts the deepest when he writes of his peers: “They beat and kill each other then call each other brother.” DeGrane puts us into the reality that engenders that schizoid response. (Michael Weinstein)
Through February 4 at the Gage Gallery, 18 South Michigan
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.