Women in jail
Guangzhou Photo Biennial 2005
Exhibition: 18 Jan – 28 Feb 2005
Guangdong Museum of Art
38 Yanyu Road, Er-sha Island
During nine years, across several European countries (East and West) and America, the photojournalist, Jane Evelyn Atwood encountered and photographed women in jail, inprisonned either for minor infractions (theft or drugs) or for major offences (murder or child abuse).This long involvement, which moving and passionate photographs describe scenes far beyond our imagination, tells the changing story of a population of jailed women. In fact, since 1980, in the United States alone, the amount of women prisoners has been multiplied ten fold, an increase much greater than for men. This explosion shows an extraordinary social turmoil that brings problems with unmeasurable consequences. Although Jane Evelyn Atwood wants to inform first, her photographs are also an urgent call for changes. Beeing the first report of such a wide scope on a touchy subject, it raises news worthy questions especially when the women population in jail is increasing so rapidly. It also teaches us about the roots of crime: poverty and all sorts of abuses. Through her highly sensitive eye, her courage in front of sometimes unbearable situations, but also her sense of aestetics, Jane Evelyn Atwood talks about truth, humanism and suffering. We only see a stirring silhouette of the young girls, from the back and faceless, but we know with certainty that this dubious nirvana, represented by the city, exerts on them a gigantic power of attraction. Weng Fen expresses first of all his mistrust of the city. In the process of urbanization, the pilgrimage towards the city became a kind of unconscious collective. If many artists today start to be interested in the problem, it is non the less treated by Weng Fen with originality. He indeed offers neither concrete description of city life, nor simplistic answer. He only tries to establish a space, to build a way in, to mobilize our imagination to cause our reflection. What does this city nirvana mean? What does it mean for the young girls?