This installation introduces the victims of crimes as an alternative point of view. As a site, Eastern State invites me to recognize the humanity of those who were once imprisoned within its walls; ‘Other Absences’ forces me to also acknowledge lives that were taken and consider the greater impact of individual criminal acts.
The process of extensive research has revealed other layers of ‘absence.’ The small percentage of victims I have been able to locate is not a genuine reflection of those affected by crime. Instead, the gathered images echo the biased nature of public record. My research process has revealed that ‘newsworthy’ stories often served a specific population; the omissions reflect both economic and racial disparity.
The acts of finding these stories and painting these portraits have come to embody acts of remembrance for me. These are small memorials to people whose lives were cut short. Installing these portraits within a cell also reintroduces questions of penitence. These quiet images speak to larger ideas of longing and loss.
I am interested in the complications of these overlaid points-of-view. Through examination of the specifics of these conflicting/very human stories, I am not able to hold onto my ‘general views’ on crime and punishment.