E Block

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9780615758022: E Block
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In 2005 photographer Mark Perrott learned that Pittsburgh's Western Penitentiary, located just downriver from the city center, was about to close. He requested permission to visit the 1885 Gothic sandstone structure, and ended up touring the site with a former Pennsylvania Department of Corrections administrator. They walked through spaces of confinement and institutional organization like the Mess Hall, Laundry, Commissary, Chapel, Death Row, and the cellblocks. Mark recalls, "None of this prepared me for the experience of E Block - the row of cells dedicated to the housing of newly-arrived prisoners. Prisoners spent three days to two weeks on E Bock, until the system 'classified' them along to other cellblocks, or to other institutions. Each cell had whitewashed walls, most often covered with graffiti. I read every square inch of each wall. These were the unfiltered voices of men in their first days of separation and incarceration. As I moved from cell to cell, these voices became a chorus of shame, rage, bravado, advice, hate, humor, confession, and contrition. Over the next year I wrote down each word and photographed every surface." This is Mark's record of E Block.

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About the Author:

A native to the Pittsburgh area, Mark Perrott has worked as a professional photographer since 1971. His work includes portraiture and corporate photography for annual reports and commissions for black and white portraits of families and children. In the early eighties, he gave his attention to the life and death struggle of Pittsburgh's steel industry, with a special emphasis on the Jones & Laughlin steel mill and its Blast Furnace Department, informally known as "Eliza." Photographs from this project were used to create the book Eliza, published in 1989, by Howell Press. Mark published Hope Abandoned, a four-year investigation of Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, in 1999. Mark's photograph's are included in the permanent collections of a number of museums, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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