I am currently in San Francisco, attending the American Association of Geographers conference. I am running two sessions at the conference on the ‘Geographies of Gender and Generation’ with Michael Richardson tomorrow but while I am here I have also had a bit of time to do some touristy things. Today I visited Alcatraz or “The Rock”, the famous federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. Other than the shocking size of the cells and generally oppressive nature of prison space, what really interested me was the Prisoners of Age exhibition. The exhibition was a room full of images of older prisoners, including their narratives about why they were in prison. The images included mainly older men but also some women and a woman who identified as transgender. The exhibition is intended to draw attention to otherwise invisible people in the prison population, to celebrate diversity but also to encourage reflection on the human experience of incarceration and ageing. It is a poignant example of the way in which both image and narrative can give voice, and reveal the diversity and complexity of human experience, particularly of some of the most marginalised in society.
Here are a few of the images I captured while there: