Lockdown is a project that presents a fragment of the population of 2.4 million people locked away in U.S. prisons. The eleven photo portraits and interview excerpts were recorded during one-hour visits Dread Scott made to a prison and at a meeting with youth who had been through the system. The project depicts a group that is acutely aware of how they got to the position they are in, as well as of the politics driving mass incarceration. The men’s photographs and voices speak to their race and class—often Black and Latino and typically from impoverished backgrounds—pertinently depicting the prison policy and inner-workings of American society today. Their stories outline a judicial system that offers few solutions to those trapped in the cycle of incarceration. Most individuals who have served time are released from prison into a different type of social confinement—one that discriminates them on the basis of their past, as well as their race and class. Local and federal policies restrict their ability to get public assistance, an education, and steady employment. Lockdown serves as evidence, and also as a necessary platform for discussion and debate where voices from the inside are amplified, rather than silenced.
Dread Scott is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is exhibited across the U.S. and internationally. For almost three decades he has made work that encourages viewers to re-examine cohering norms of American society. In 1989, the entire U.S. Senate denounced his artwork and President Bush declared it “disgraceful” because of its use of the American flag. His work has been exhibited and performed internationally including in the MoMA/PS1, Pori Art Museum (Finland), BAM and galleries and street corners across the country. He is a recipient of a Creative Capital Grant and his work is included in the collection of the Whitney Museum.