Black is the Day, Black is the Night
Self Published 2016
Black is the Day, Black is the Night started as an exploration into, what author and photographer has called, “extreme manifestations of masculinity,” but over time it evolved into a meditation on time and memory through personal correspondence with men serving life and death row sentences in some of the most maximum security prisons in the U.S., all of whom had served between 13-26 years at point of contact in 2009 when the project started.
“Out of our letters a collaboration unfolded. I constructed images using formulas specific to each of their stories, age and years incarcerated. Through these formulas their portraits became more unrecognizable and their memories became more muddled, regurgitated and fictional with the endless passing years of their sentence. Stripped of personal context and placed in solitary cells, their sense of identity, memory and time couldn’t help but mutate. I sent these images to them, they would critique them. This went on for years. Of the seven men I originally wrote, I remain in touch with one who has been in solitary confinement since 1995 for a crime committed at 16. One was released in 2010 at the age of 30 (after 15 years in prison), three eventually opted out, one was executed in 2009, another executed in 2012.” – Amy Elkins via LensCulture
The title of the book comes from poem excerpts written by a man who has been in prison since the age of 13. He was retried as an adult at 16 for attempting escape and was sentenced to life in solitary without the possibility of parole at a super-max prison. He taught himself to write poetry over this time.
Amy received her BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York. Elkins has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, California; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; North Carolina Museum of Art; Light Work Gallery, Syracuse, New York; and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, among many others. Her work has been published in the New York Times Magazine, Eyemazing, PDN, Harpers, NY Arts, Conveyor, and Contact Sheet, among others. Elkins has also been included in exhibition catalogues such as The Portrait. Elkins was an artist-in-residence at Light Work in 2011, and at Villa Waldberta, Munich, in 2012. In 2008, Elkins and Cara Phillips cofounded wipnyc.org, a platform for showcasing both established and emerging women in photography. Elkins is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York.
Amy Elkins is currently based near Los Angeles.
Black is the Day, Black is the Night is available through her website: http://www.amyelkins.com.