Dr. Shawn M. Smith at the UNM Art Museum this Friday
"Taryn Simon: The Scene of the Crime" Friday, May 3rd at 4:30 pm / The UNM Art Museum
This is the inaugural Modern American Art and Culture Scholar series sponsored by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center, UNM College of Fine Arts and UNM Art Museum. Each year one of the visiting fellows at the O'Keeffe Research Center will give a lecture at UNM and one faculty or graduate student will reciprocate and speak at the O' Keeffe. The goal of this exchange is to facilitate more interaction among academics in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
When I was a fellow there in 2007, I wondered why we had no contact with this huge, rich resource down the road. So I made the connection with the new director Eumie Imm Stroukoff, Emily Fisher Landau Director of the Research Center who enthusiastically agreed to collaborate.
Dr. Smith is Associate Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently a Research Center Scholar at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum for the year. She is the author of Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture and American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture; coauthor of Lynching Photographs; and coeditor of Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity. Her latest book At the Edge of Sight and the Unseen is forthcoming from Duke this Fall.
The Innocents is a series of photographs by Taryn Simon that depict victims of wrongful incarceration for violent crimes that they did not commit. The primary cause of wrongful conviction is mistaken identification. A victim or eyewitness identifies a suspected perpetrator through law enforcement's use of photographs and lineups. This procedure relies on the assumption of precise visual memory. But, through exposure to composite sketches, mugshots, Polaroids, and lineups, eyewitness memory can change. In the history of these cases, photography offered the criminal justice system a tool that transformed innocent citizens into criminals. Photographs assisted officers in obtaining eyewitness identifications and aided prosecutors in securing convictions.1
1 From Taryn Simon's Website, Preamble to The Innocents