There are 2.3m people currently incarcerated in the US — 0.7 per cent of all Americans, one of the highest rates in the world — making the question of how to create a visual record of this invisible population a pertinent one.
This is the issue addressed in Aperture’s latest exhibition, “Prison Nation”. Moving away from mugshots, the show aims to create counter-narratives, giving new dignity to those subject to the dehumanising effects of imprisonment.
Among the photographers featured is Lucas Foglia, who captures women prisoners working in the GreenHouse Horticulture programme of the vast Rikers Island jail in New York, notorious for its mistreatment of inmates. “If we could stay here all day that would be wonderful,” says one prisoner. “It’s the only place where we feel like human beings.”