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FIRST PHOTOBOOK SHORTLIST: ​Black Is the Day, Black is the Night

Amy Elkins
Black Is the Day, Black Is the Night

Self-published, Los Angeles, CA, 2016
Designed by Amy Elkins and Ania Nałęcka, Tapir Book Design amyelkins.com

“Isolated and facing death, what happens to you? What happens to your identity and your self?” are questions the artist Amy Elkins asked herself and translated into images in her book Black Is the Day, Black Is the Night, an oblique portrait of incarcerated men facing life in prison or death sentences. Over the course of five years, Elkins corresponded by mail with a number of men who, on average, spent twenty-two and a half hours a day in solitary confinement, in six-by-nine-foot cells. A complex layering of images, letters, and drawings is woven together and contextualized with quotes and text in order to approach this difficult topic. Ann-Christin Bertrand says, “Elkins’s project reveals a great capacity for empathy in her attempt to translate the feelings of these men into images—a smartly produced universe of found, constructed, or documentary images that express the inner experiences of the men—not only their suffering, but also their aspirations, fantasies, and memories of the world—under the dehumanizing conditions of solitary confinement.”

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