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Pete Brook

Grad Student
Environmental Art + Social Practice MFA Candidate

Pete Brook is a writer, curator and educator focused on prisons, photos and power. In 2008, he founded the website Prison Photography to speak to issues of visibility, distribution, ethics and abuses within image production. In 2014, he curated 'Prison Obscura' which brought together images about mass incarceration created outside of the documentary tradition. In 2015, Pete co-curated 'Status Update' which took on change and chance (gentrification) in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2016, Pete walked, south to north, across the United States. In 2018, he was awarded the W. Eugene Smith Fund’s Howard Chapnick Award and a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting which funded 8-months of teaching at San Quentin State Prison. Between 2018 and 2021, Pete taught photo history at CSU Sacramento.

In the past I have made articles, essays and exhibitions. I'm interested in if/how images can advance rapid and permanent decarceration. I haven't made photographs for an art context, but may do so during the program. I'm interested in the overlap between a teaching practice and a creative practice and want to make things with incarcerated groups. Perhaps by drawing photographs, purging unwanted photographs, describing album photographs or camera use in the family, sequencing found prints for fictional tale, image-mapping, seeing photos not yet made, evoking photographs not seen.

Photography and visual literacy are tied to abolitionist education, “imagery” must necessarily include daydreams, conceptual realms, remembered scenes, phantoms, and the sensory stimuli that accompany vision. Recently, I’ve been interested in archives and their disruption/re-annotation, in Alison Cornyn’s oral history archive works including the Prison Public Memory Project, to the “Archiving the Age of Mass Incarceration” project at UCLA.