Architecture of AuthorityPhotographs by Richard Ross
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For the past several years—and with seemingly limitless access—Richard Ross has been making unsettling and thought-provoking pictures of architectural spaces that exert power over the individuals within them.
From a Montessori preschool to churches, mosques, and diverse civic spaces—a Swedish courtroom, the Iraqi National Assembly hall, the United Nations—the images in Architecture of Authority build to ever harsher manifestations of authority: an interrogation room at Guantánamo, segregation cells at Abu Ghraib, and finally, a capital punishment death chamber.
Though visually cool, this work deals with hot-button issues: the surveillance that increasingly intrudes on post—9/11 life, the abuse of power, the erosion of individual liberty. The connections among the various architectures are striking; as Ross points out: "The Santa Barbara Mission confessional and the LAPD robbery homicide interrogation rooms are the same intimate proportions. Both are made to solicit a confession in exchange for some form of redemption."
Richard Ross (born 1947, New York) has taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, since 1977. He has photographed for the New York Times Magazine, Discover, Vogue, and Frankfurter Allgemeine and is represented by ACME Gallery in Los Angeles. His work is in the collections of the Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; British Museum, London; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; and Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.