Lucinda Devlin started in 1991 a series of photographs of gas chambers, injection rooms, electric chairs, and death row cells in the rural United States’ penitentiaries, entitled “The Omega Suites“, after the last letter of the Greek alphabet as an allusion to the finality of execution.
The purpose of this photographs is not to bring an ethical view upon the issue of death penalty in the States, but to focus on the environment where the process of capital punishment takes place.
“My personal view of the role of capital punishment in our society is not an issue in these photographs” states Devlin. “Rather, I have attempted to let the environments themselves communicate directly with viewers.”
The architectures of isolation, the sanitized chambers of life privation, are captured with Hasselblad cameras through long exposures, resulting in clinically sterile images.
“I wasn’t prepared for this. Looming in front of me was a massive, gray bunker. It looked impenetrable. Guard towers ascended at each end and concertina wire was set atop the wall all the way around. I don’t know what I was expecting, but my heart was beating wildly as I was asked to remove my belt and shoes. After being thoroughly searched, my hand was stamped with an invisible substance which glowed under ultraviolet light, and I was escorted through successive barred doors. The guard accompanying me was young and not too tall, but he obviously spent a lot of time with weights. He was taut and not just because of his well muscled body. It was also in his demeanor. In fact, this tension was palpable all around me.[...]
When I began this photographic project, I had little knowledge of the death penalty in America. But one cannot go in and out of maximum security prisons and view a wide assortment of spaces intended for killing people without becoming curious about the laws, the people charged with carrying out those laws, the living environments, and most importantly, the inmates on death row who are irrevocably affected by this singular punishment.”
The sources of our photos and some informations are the following.
Lucinda Devlin on m-bochum
Omega Suites on Ziguline
Lucinda Devlin on Exitmedia
Lucinda Devlin: The Omega Suites on Haggerty Museum on Flickr
The Omega Suites on History of Our World
The Omega Suites on Paul Rodgers 9W
The Omega Suites: An Inside Look at Execution Chambers on The Annals of Americus
The Omega Suites on No Sugar Studio blog
Lethal Injection Chamber, Nevada State Prison, Carson City, Nevada
Electric Chair, Somers Correctional Institution, Somers, Connecticut
Autopsy Room, Giorgia
Electric Chair, Greenhaven, NY
Electric Chair, Greensville Correctional Facility, Jarratt, Virgin
Executioner’s Room, Greenhaven Correctional Facility, NY
Electric Chair, Indiana State Prison, Michigan City, Indiana
Final Holding Cell, Greensville Correctional Facility, Jarratt, Virginia
Lethal Injection Chamber, Petosi Correctional Center, Petosi, Missouri
Lethal Injection Chamber, Texas State Prison, Huntsville, Texas
Lethal Injection Chamber, Territorial Correctional Facility, Canon City, CO
Witness Room, Petosi Correctional Center, Petosi, Missouri
Lethal Injection Chamber from Witness Room, Cummins Unit, Grady, AR
Lethal Injection Chamber from Family Witness Room, Parchman State Penitentiary, Mississippi
Electric Chair, Holman Unit, Atmore, Alabama