Shawn Smith, 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, presents, "Taryn Simon: The Scene of the Crime," on Friday, May 3 from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. in the University of New Mexico Art Museum, located on the main campus in the Center for the Arts.
The Innocents is a series of photographs by 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.
Smith 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; co-author of Lynching Photographs; and co-editor 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 University Press this fall.
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