Featuring photographs that represent a unique collaboration between men held in supermax prisons and the photographers who fulfilled their requests.

What would a person in complete isolation want to see? Men in solitary confinement at Tamms supermax prison in Illinois were asked to request a photograph of anything in the world, real or imagined, and Tamms Year Ten found photographers to make the images. The responses included the place where the Robert Taylor Homes used to be, a gray and white warmblood horse rearing in cold air and a lovesick clown with an old-fashioned feather pen.


“Photo Requests from Solitary” features some of these photographs, along with the unfilled requests from the next phase of the project in New York and California, where thousands of men, women, and children live in extreme isolation and sensory deprivation in state prisons and local jails.

The exhibit will be staffed by survivors of solitary confinement, family members of individuals in prison, and advocates from the New York Campaign Against Isolated Confinement, as well as students from Parsons The New School for Design. Visitors can ask questions and take action to end the use of prolonged isolation in New York. The men who requested the photographs and chose their subjects have been held in isolation in supermax prisons, some for more than a decade. A variety of artists volunteered to take photographs based on their requests.


  • Parsons School of Design

    Parsons School of Design

    A pioneer in art and design education for more than a century, Parsons School of Design is one of the most prestigious and comprehensive colleges of art and design in the world. Critical thinking, collaboration, and reflective practice are at the heart of a Parsons education. Located in the heart of New York City, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of design disciplines. A student-centered curriculum allows for both focused and interdisciplinary learning to master concepts, technologies, and research methods that cut across a wide array of fields. By synthesizing theory with craft, and combining art and design studies with the liberal arts and business, Parsons prepares its students to shape scholarship in their field and make art and design that matters. Its faculty of notable artists, design practitioners, critics, historians, writers, and scholars exemplify an extraordinary breadth of vision. The graduate Photography program functions as a 21st-century studio and think tank. The goal of the 26-month program is to prepare graduates to define the creative role of photography within contemporary culture, as practicing artists and scholars. Challenging participants to move beyond current paradigms—to anticipate and set trends, rather than follow them.

  • Solitary Watch

    Solitary Watch

  • New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement

    New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement

    A grassroots coalition dedicated to ending the torture of solitary in New York’s prisons and jails through public education, community organizing, and passage of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act in the state legislature.

Photo Requests from Solitary

 archive : 2013

Featuring: Various Artists

Curated by: Laurie Jo Reynolds Jeanine Oleson Jean Casella

Presented by: Parsons School of Design, Solitary Watch, New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement
  • Parsons School of Design
  • Solitary Watch
  • New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement

Supported by:

  • The Open Society Foundations


View Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 5 Uplands

NY 11201

Location open 24 hours

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Sep 222013

Photo Requests from Solitary

The “Photo Requests from Solitary” event at Photoville brings together artists, activists, journalists, and survivors of solitary confinement. This panel discussion with accompanying slide show will introduce audiences to the reality of torture taking place in their own backyards, while exploring the power of photography to humanize one of the most marginalized group of people in our society, educate the public and the press, and spur social change on one of our most pressing domestic human rights issues.

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