Michal Chelbin - Sailboats & Swans
1st edition published by Twin Palms, 2012
Format: Hardback with dustjacket, 300x325mm
Condition: Very Good. Some minor shelf wear.
A strange juxtaposition of beauty and despair, "Sailboats and Swans" confronts one's preconceived notions about prison, and what we think criminals, even murderers, look like. Photographed mostly in Ukraine, as well as one in Russia, the prison walls are often papered in florals or decorated with hand painted murals depicting idyllic scenes, that are deceptive in not revealing the pain, the tedium, and perhaps, even violence, whose presence ghosts between the plates in this book. With the exception of a few harder glares and more grisly portrait sitters, many of the faces we are presented with are young, attractive, sometimes angelic even. There is a softness especially amongst the women and girls, that makes the mind question if they're really capable of the crimes they're said to have committed. We'd feel more comfortable, as a society, if all criminals fit neatly into the palm of our illusions of a thief, a drug dealer, a murderer, as if there was a universal face, or obvious markings for such crimes. These prisoners look all too much like us, like anybody, and so you begin see yourselves as them, and them as human beings, the dividing lines becoming blurred and indistinguishable. You forget that you're seeing fragments of lives ruined, uprooted, dreams interrupted, by their own evil doing, or perhaps, by unfortunate events, by a simple mistake, human desperation, a need for survival, the latter of which is played out all over again in these prisons.
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