The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) presents an exhibition of photographs by New Orleans natives Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick. Slavery, the Prison Industrial Complex: Photographs by Keith Calhoun & Chandra McCormick features the husband-and-wife team’s poignant and celebrated photographs of life and labor practices at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the United States. The exhibition features approximately three dozen mostly black-and-white images and videos that record the exploitation of the men incarcerated at the Angola prison farm while also revealing the nuances of their individual narratives. Included among these works is a remarkable group of portraits, images of living and working conditions in the prison and the annual prison rodeo, emotionally charged photographs of men furloughed to attend family funerals, and videos of exonerated men being released and testifying to the difficulties they faced while incarcerated. The BMA’s presentation will also feature a new video and photographs dedicated to Norris Henderson and Gary Tyler, formerly incarcerated men who have achieved major civil rights victories in the struggle against mass incarceration.
Since 1980, Calhoun and McCormick have made regular visits to Angola, which was founded on the consolidated land of several cotton and sugarcane plantations and named for the country of origin for many of the slaves who worked the land. Angola is also called “The Farm” because the 18,000-acre campus continues to grow cash crops—as much as four million pounds a year—using inmate labor. (The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits involuntary servitude, does not apply to convicted inmates.) There are currently more than 6,000 inmates at Angola and roughly 75 percent are African American. As first-hand witnesses to exploitative labor practices, Calhoun and McCormick are committed to bringing attention to how incarceration, which has more than quadrupled in the United States since 1980, can fuel and abet capitalism. The problem is complicated further because the economic welfare of local communities largely depends on the penal system for civilian employment.
On view June 16–October 27, 2019.
Wednesday: 10am – 5pm
Thursday: 10am – 5pm
Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 10am – 5pm
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