Opening Reception: Saturday, February 4, 2017, 6-10pm
February 4 thru March 11, 2017
Curators: Pat Sparkuhl, Gregg Stone, Leslie Davis
Longest Night – Eastern State Penitentiary
“If you would seek vengeance above all else, be sure to dig two graves.” – Greek proverb
The U.S. now confines more than 2.2 million people in its prisons. This amounts to 1.2% percent of its population, more than any other country and eight times more per capita than Russia. Our incarcerated citizens have become a shadow nation, hidden and often forgotten. This shadow nation is supported by a budget estimated at 64 billion annually, or nearly 6% of our gross national product. Incarceration has become a big and rigorously privatized business. Our current approach has produced a profitable if brutal cycle: poverty and the absence of economic opportunity funnel individuals into crime, prisons militate against rehabilitation, convicts re-offend following release, and after arrest are returned to prison as compliant recidivists. As a result, U.S. recidivism rates are now at 68% and increase every year. In this environment, it’s hard to tell where justice ends and vengeance begins.
“Longest Night” is part of a photographic essay of Eastern State Penitentiary recently published by LenCulture Magazine. Located in Philadelphia (Smukler’s hometown), Eastern State Penitentiary was once the largest and most expensive public structure ever erected, and quickly became a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. It was also known for some such infamous prisoners as Al Capone and Willie Sutton.
Rich Smukler specializes in Landscape and Fine-Art Photography from his studio in South Florida. His works have been featured in numerous museums, galleries and private collections internationally. You can see more of his works at http://www.richsmuklerphoto.com. (Kick back and stay awhile).