James Fee and Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary
James Fee, American
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8 7/16 x 6 3/8 inches (21.4 x 16.2 cm) Sheet: 9 7/8 x 7 3/4 inches (25.1 x 19.7 cm)
Gift of Robert Brinkmann, 1995
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California-based James Fee made his series of photographs there in 1995, using views of the penitentiary's storeroom, machine shop, and infirmary to record some of the left-behind objects that hint at the lives of former inmates. The artist made his negatives using a nineteenth-century wet-plate photographic process and employed other techniques to diffuse the detail of his subjects. The resulting hazy, imperfect quality of his prints suggest the passage of time and, by offering only indistinct glimpses of the penitentiary, reminds us of the many untold stories within its walls.
For a wealth of information about the Eastern State Penitentiary, including special programs and how to visit, see their website at www.easternstate.org.