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Art @ the Center: Fall 2012

Bruce Jackson & Diane Christian—Documentary Photography at CSAS

The Center is pleased to welcome distinguished documentary photographers Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian this fall. Select photographs from their collaborative work on death row culture, titled “In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America,” will be on view through the Fall 2012 semester at the Love House and Hutchins Forum. Please join us at a closing reception for Jackson and Christian on November 28, and a corresponding Hutchins Lecture the following day, November 29.

We encourage lecture attendees to visit the exhibition by November 29, as the lecture will focus on the photographs on display (also collected in a new book of the same title) and their more than thirty years working together. Southern Cultures readers may remember that we featured Bruce Jackson’s prison photography in our first special Photography Issue, published Summer 2007. (Read more here.)

November 28 – Closing reception for “In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America.” Time TBA, Love House and Hutchins Forum.

November 29 – Hutchins Lecture with Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian, a lecture in conjunction with their exhibit at the Center for the Study of the American South.
Introduced by Bill Ferris, senior associate director, Center for the Study of the American South, and Tom Rankin, director, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke.
4:30 pm, Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, 039 Graham Memorial Hall, UNC campus.

Artist Statement: The most common term for being in prison is “doing time.” Ask someone who just got out where he’s been and he’ll say “doing time.” Because time is what you do in the penitentiary—except on Death Row, where time doesn’t count. The judge doesn’t sentence a condemned prisoner to spend time on Death Row; the judge sentences a condemned prisoner to be killed. So Death Row is limbo, a waiting place, a prison like no other, because it is a prison in which time does not matter. An inmate on Death Row in Texas, where these photos were taken in spring 1979, sent us a poem in which he referred to being “in this timeless time.” Condemned men in Texas are in a different prison now, and the conditions of their daily life are far more harsh, far more severe, far more cruel. But that central element of living “in this timeless time” hasn’t changed at all.

Bruce Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture, and Diane Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teacher Professor of English, SUNY Buffalo, have worked together for more than thirty years, documenting and writing about the complex issues of the American prison system. Their new book, In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America, published by UNC Press in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, explores the life of death row inmates in Texas and in other states. Jackson and Christian capture, through words and pictures, the daily experiences of inmates, while also highlighting arbitrary judicial processes related to capital punishment.