LANA Z CAPLAN
NEW GENRES ARTIST & PHOTOGRAPHER

 

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BEIJING SPIRIT

FUTURE TELLER

PLAY AND REPEAT

THE LOVELIEST MOUNTAIN OF CHINA

PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING

SITES OF PUBLIC EXECUTION

OUT OF THIS BODY

 

 


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SITES OF PUBLIC EXECTUION

55 PAGES, 10 X 10" HARD COVER, 2010

Site of Public Executions by Guillotine
1792-1793
(Place du Carousel, Louvre, Paris)

 

Site of Public Execution by Burning at the Stake of Giordano Bruno
February 17, 1600
(Campo de'Fiori, Rome)

 

Site of Public Execution by Tomahawk of Chief Leather Lips
June 1, 1810
(Cleveland, OH)

 

Site of Public Executions by Sport
c. 80 - 476
(Colosseum, Rome)

 

Site of Public Executions by Hanging
c. 1861 - 1865
(Fort Warren on Georges Island, Boston Harbor, MA)

 

Site of Public Executions by Hanging from the Tyburn Tree Gallows
(up to 25 people hanging at time, averaging 35 hangings per year)
1571 - November 3, 1783
(Marble Arch, London)

 

Site of Public Executions by Hanging
June 10, July 19, August 19 & September 22, 1692
(Gallows Hill Park, Salem, MA)

 

Site of Sentencing and Public Executions by Beating
c.1420 - 1912
(Wumen Gate, Forbidden City, Beijing)

 

 

Sites of Public Execution

Since 2001, I have been researching, photographing and making short films about sites that had been used for public executions at different times in history. When I began this ongoing project, people were petitioning for Timothy McVeigh's execution to be televised, a modern form of a public arena. The desire to watch or show people being killed, as perceived justice or as a political act, is still alive in America and other parts of the world such as the Middle East (the most recent form coming in ghastly videotaped beheadings broadcast on Youtube and social media sites).

What does a society choose to show of its history in public space? Are shifting values visible in the function of space? Can images reflect the power of society to impact policy change?

I found some sites that were quite venerated as places for public execution, such as St. Peter's Square in Rome or the field in Salem, MA (now named Gallows Hill Park) where accused witches were hung. Some places are now well known for other reasons, such as the Louvre, in front of which the guillotine was installed during the French Revolution. The different ways in which the history of these places has been dealt with (some capitalizing on the executions, others concealing the execution history with other events that also occurred in these places) spoke more to me about present day morality and values in each country than the abolishment or continuation of capital punishment in those countries.

The photographs in this series are sepia-toned silver prints presented in french mats. This presentation is a reference to historical photographs and cataloguing of images made for documentation purposes. Each of the mats have calligraphic titles describing the dates and types of executions that occurred on that site, rather than the name and place pictured, as is customary. By subverting the viewers' expectations in the text, they may question what they thought they knew of these places.

New images in this series include sites in the American West and Mexico. I have also begun a series of current execution sites with images captured from Google Earth in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

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