Joe Librandi-Cowan, The Auburn System
Joe Librandi-Cowan’s hometown, Auburn, NY, is host to a maximum-security prison. The Auburn System is his ongoing portrait of Auburn and its relationship with its prison.
The prison sits directly in the middle of the city, nestled between busy roads and residential neighborhoods. Its thirty-five-foot high walls become largely ignored. The walls around the perimeter of the prison are a visual and psychological reminder of the two distinctly different worlds inhabiting the same space. The people in his photographs are members of his community – some live across from the prison’s walls and others have worked behind them.
Historically, Auburn prison has played a large role within the workings and systems that structure modern day correctional services and prisons. In the 1820’s, Auburn Prison implemented what became known as The Auburn System – a series of corrections that included lockstep, solitary confinement, and complete silence. The prison was also home to the first execution by electrocution. Many of the practices that began in Auburn have led to what is now called the Prison Industrial Complex.
Librandi’s work explores how a community so deeply ingrained within the prison industry and penal history coexists with its prison. The work also exists to foster a discussion that asks difficult questions regarding prisons, prison towns, incarceration, correctional practices and policing within American society.
(see bio below)
Wall Street by Joe Librandi-Cowan, pigment print, 16″x20″,open edition, $400
Untitled (run), pigment print, 16″x20″,open edition, $400
bio Joe Librandi-Cowan is a recent graduate of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, where he studied fine art photography and was the recent recipient of an Imagining America Engagement Fellowship. His artistic practice is heavily community-based, dealing with the deep and complex issues of the prison industrial complex, its role within society, and its impact on his hometown’s community, Auburn NY.
In the past year, Joe has received a Finger Lakes Community Arts Grant and has had solo shows of, The Auburn System” at The Cayuga Museum of History and Art in Auburn, NY and The Gallery at SUNY Onondaga in Syracuse, NY. He has also shown widely online, including a feature on the BBC World Update, Lensculture, and an interview with Pete Brook of the Prison Photography Project. He is also the Recipient of a 2017 Light Work grant.