Works (Tap to zoom)
Deborah Luster (b. 1951 in Bend, OR; lives and works in New Orleans, LA, and Galway, Ireland) uses photography, installation and text to investigate violence, its social constructs, and its consequences, particularly in her home state of Louisiana. She is best known for her documentation of the state’s prisons, including the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary maximum-security prison at Angola, where she spent six years to produce an archive of formal inmate portraits, printed using silver gelatin emulsion on metal plates. Her renowned 1998 monograph, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, includes a collection of these photographic portraits from three different Louisiana state prisons.
A later body of work from 2011 entitled Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish documents sites of recent and historical homicides in New Orleans, inspired in part by the 1988 murder of her mother. In this series, Luster captures the haunting scenes of past crimes, whether in private or public spaces—resulting in sparse images that seem to exist outside of time, simultaneously distant and chillingly close. Tooth for an Eye maps the much beloved and beleaguered city, including the topography, architecture, material and cultural phenomenon that is New Orleans—widely documented but still elusive. By approaching cityscapes through the context of homicide, Luster explores the city’s sense of loss as well as the pervasive pulse of hope and corruption that exists throughout.