Having worked in corrections in my past life, with adults, young offenders and as a volunteer within prisons, I am very familiar with the environment. This experience was in a medium security setting, and in open custody facilities, very different than Kingston Penitentiary. I have been on a few brief occasions, inside Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick, that is also maximum security. Driving through Dorchester from Ontario as a kid, I remember vividly, how ominous the site of that huge old penitentiary was, sitting high up on a hill overlooking the village, and the feeling of dread that it gave me.
Renowned Canadian photographer Geoffrey James, gives a compassionate insightful perspective, when he spent time documenting with his camera, what it is like inside the Kingston maximum security prison.
John Szarkowski once described photography as a window or a mirror, the two strategies of pictorial expression. The 'Mirror' strategy focuses on self-expressive photography. The 'Window' element being when photographers leave their comfort zone to explore.
Geoffrey James left his comfort zone when he traveled to Kingston Penitentiary in 2013. His photography exhibit, opened August 30th - December 7th 2014, and was held at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, in Kingston Ontario, and he also published his book Inside 1835-2013 Kingston Penitentiary. I heard a fascinating interview with Geoffrey James about his exhibit today on The Morning Edition,,CBC Radio.