Shadow Spaces from The Art | Crime Archive / by Brian Goeltzenleuchter

Stephen Chalmers, Milton Harvey (14), from the Unmarked Series.

Stephen Chalmers, Milton Harvey (14), from the Unmarked Series.

It's probably too broad a generalization to claim that university librarians are more fun to be around than their academic counterparts, but I just left a meeting with five members of SDSU's library that made me consider changing professions. This Spring, The Art | Crime Archive (Paul Kaplan, Dan Salmonsen and my collaborative project) will curate two exhibitions and a lecture series at the SDSU Library. In addition to possessing some seriously rad (and I don't use the word "rad" indiscriminately) tech resources, the library folks seem truly excited about our project. Here is an overview of the two central exhibitions. The lecture series is currently in development.

The Prison Art Project
Laura Pecenco is a Ph.D. Candidate in sociology at the University of California, San Diego.  Her dissertation research involves analyzing prisoner-made art.  Pecenco currently works with prisoners at the Richard J. Donovan State Prison in Otay Mesa.  Pecenco will work with SDSU criminal justice and art students to curate an exhibition of Prisoner Art on campus. A central goal of this exhibition is to generate an awareness of the pervasive myths of prison life – much of which has been perpetuated through popular entertainment – and offer another, more complex model of what it means to live behind bars.

Interrogating Dump Sites:  An Exhibition of Photographs by Stephen Chalmers
Critically acclaimed photographer Stephen Chalmers gained wide notoriety with his photographs of ‘dump sites’—wild spaces where infamous serial killers disposed of their victims.  Chalmers photographed these spaces years after they had been crime scenes and the images are strikingly beautiful, constructed through Chalmers’ mastery of photo techniques.  Criminology thus wonders:  is it the ‘crime’ of these images that makes them ‘art?’  Is there something exploitive about art’s taking possession of these spaces and using their terrifying history for critical or aesthetic notoriety?  Or is art simply making aesthetically beautiful the long established criminological practice of documenting spaces of death? Without making these and other questions explicit, the exhibition would display Chalmers’ photographs and include interactive prompts for SDSU students and other audience members to address these and other themes.