Portfolio: Mark Strandquist, "Some Other Places We've Missed"

A Picture of the Hallway Standing From the Entrance of the Front Door in Direction of the Back Door
(click to enlarge)

Written memory from chosen location (click to enlarge)

Series statement 
"Some Other Places We've Missed" is an ongoing project featuring collaborative practice, interactive installations, and workshops held in various jails and prisons. Functioning in multiple ways, the project uses photography as the catalyst for social engagement and strives to facilitate a humanistic window into the histories, realities, and desires of some of the 2.3 million incarcerated Americans.

At each workshop inmates are asked: "If you had a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?" Participants provide a detailed memory from the chosen location, and describe how they would want the photograph composed. The locations are then photographed and an image is handed or mailed back to the incarcerated participants.

While the images facilitate room for personal associations, the written descriptions become the meeting place for alienated publics and blur our notions of personal, public, and exiled space. The project is realized through a set of limitations. Those set by each incarcerated participant - who provide each image’s location and corresponding composition - and those limitations argued by many to be integral to the photographic medium

An upcoming exhibit of the work utilizes the project as the starting point for a series of conversations, interactions and public engagements. Additional programing within the gallery will include film screenings, letter to prisoner writing workshops, and teach-ins led by formerly incarcerated individuals, community members affected by incarceration, prisoner rights advocates, and many others. For the exhibit, a set of newspaper boxes will be placed across the city. Each will be filled with newspapers including a statement, information on local prison demographics, a "seeking photos" section written by prisoners, and a corresponding map to each exiled location so that individuals within the community can fulfill the requests and co-produce the project.

With an emphasis on collective authorship and alternative pedagogy, the project strives to challenge the form and function of artistic practice and exhibition, and becomes the real and symbolic meeting ground for segments of society that are commonly alienated from one another.

The size of photographs presented to the public is consistent with the restrictions imposed on pictures sent to prisons. This limitation appeals to the viewer to intimately engage with these spaces, their histories, and the human absence.

Mark Strandquist (Richmond, VA) strives to facilitate interactions that incorporate viewers as direct participants, features histories that are typically distorted or ignored, and challenges the form and function of public space.

His work has been featured in various institutions, film festivals, print and online magazines, and independent galleries. The project "Write Home Soon" was exhibited in the 2012-13 international showcase of Socially Engaged Art at the Art Museum of Americas in Washington, DC. The ongoing project, "The People’s Library" is part of the permanent collection at the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library and will be presented at the 2013 Open Engagement Conference.

Pocahontas State Park, Picture of the Dam (click to enlarge)

Written memory from chosen location (click to enlarge)


Back of the House, From the Driveway (click to enlarge)

Written memory from chosen location (click to enlarge)