Richard Ross: Architecture of Authority
Photographs by Richard Ross. Text by John R. MacArthur.
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For the past several years–and with seemingly limitless access–photographer 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 including a Swedish courtroom, the Iraqi National Assembly hall and the United Nations, the images in “Architecture of Authority” build to ever harsher manifestations of power: 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–from the surveillance that increasingly intrudes on post-9/11 life to the abuse of power and 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.” Essay by “Harper’s Magazine” publisher, John R. MacArthur, also a columnist for the Toronto “Globe and Mail.”
Number of pages: 144
Publication date: 09-01-2007
Measurements: 9.16 x 9.32 x 0.78 inches
Richard Ross 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.
John R. MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine, is an award-winning journalist and author. He is the author of two books: The Selling of “Free Trade”: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy; and Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War.