Poignant Pics no. 1 // Frances Jakubek
We're launching a new series of posts titled Poignant Pics where I've asked photo curators, collectors and makers to write about a photograph or two that, in one way or another, has significantly impacted their cerebral cortex. Here, we will post the images and the words they want to share about them. A big thank you to Frances Jakubek for setting the bar!
What does one do to pass the time while time is passing without them? Danny Lyon photographed the Texas Department of Corrections in 1967 and unearthed the human element within the institution.
The two men pictured in this photograph are opponents in the current game but suffer a matching consequence and ultimately the same fate. Signs of repetition and redundancy echo as markers of these men's daily existence. Tallies on the table keep score but also denote the passage of spent time. Ritual and routine become mandatory; life's pleasures are condensed into allotted leisurely time. Wearing of the seats shows evidence of hours dedicated to a game while the actual game of life carries on beyond them.
The notion of privacy and freedom is lost from the activity as we notice just a hint of a figure in the bottom left corner. A guard. A barrier. A reminder that these two men are paying a price while playing a game. Our American bald eagle, the symbol of freedom, arises in the shape of the dominos creating an irony between liberty and reality. The eagle beckons up to the camera, Lyon's perspective dwarfs the noble bird and unhinges the viewer by forcing them to look down at the symbol we are accustomed to looking up at.
We are free until a mistake is made, and even then, the clock keeps ticking.
Frances Jakubek is a lover of and advocate for photography. As an artist and independent curator, she is most interested in the storytelling capabilities of the medium. Jakubek was a recent panelist for the Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowships, judge for the Shoreline Arts Alliance photography exhibition, speaker at the Photographic Society of New England, and guest curator for "The Curated Fridge.” Gaining the bulk of her experience as the Associate Director of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Massachusetts, she now resides in New York City and has joined the team at Bruce Silverstein Gallery.