Captive Spaces

The confinement of humans by humans is a longstanding crisis. Interested in sites where people were held during times of conflict, I wondered what markers are erected to educate or commemorate. How are these areas incorporated into the contemporary human world around them? Are they honored spaces, or ignored? Are they even on a map?

In my research and travels I have learned that some locations, like Camp Sumter in Georgia and Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, are well known, and others, such as Frongoch in Wales and Camp Pigné in France, are less so. Some threaten to disappear altogether, like Camp Ruston in Louisiana. Some sit in plain sight: Bruin’s Slave Jail is an office building in Virginia.

The American photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard advised photographers to start with a background. The background here is layered, multifaceted, and spans continents. The background is war. The background is time’s passage. The background contains history, documented or dissolved. It holds evidence of effort or neglect. Hidden, visited, maintained or dismissed, these spaces continue to exist among us. With black and white film I seek to record their line, landscape, shadow, and geography, whatever remains.

  • Date 2015-current

Andersonville Prison I (2016)
Camp Sumter, Georgia
Andersonville Prison, also known as Camp Sumter, is located in Georgia and held Union POWs from 1864-1865 during the American Civil War. Approximately 13,000 people died while incarcerated.

Shebang / Andersonville Prison II (2016)
Camp Sumter, Georgia

Andersonville Prison III (2016)
Camp Sumter, Georgia

Andersonville Prison IV (2016)
Camp Sumter, Georgia

Camp du Pigné I (2015)
Bram, France
While visiting family, my sister and I stopped at this roadside memorial erected outside Bram, France, to commemorate Camp du Pigné where civilian and military refugees were held at the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Approximately 224 prisoners died in detention. In a house across the road, one dog barked. A car or two sped past.

Camp du Pigné II (2015)
Bram, France

Bruin’s Slave Jail I (2019)
Alexandria, Virginia
Today used as a business office, from 1844 until the start of the American Civil War in 1861 this brick building in downtown Alexandria, Virginia, was known as Bruin’s Slave Jail and held enslaved people before their sale to southern states by slave dealer Joseph Bruin. To the right of the building is a statue of the Edmonson sisters, who were held at Bruin’s and whose freedom was secured by the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher.

Bruin’s Slave Jail II (2019)
Alexandria, Virginia

Camp Ford I (2016)
Tyler, Texas
Camp Ford held Union POWs from 1863-1865 during the American Civil War. The site includes walking trails, interpretive signs, and reconstructions of cabins and tents used by prisoners. On a late Sunday afternoon, I was the only visitor.

Camp Ford II (2016)
Tyler, Texas

Camp Ruston I (2016)
Louisiana
From 1943-1946, Camp Ruston held World War II POWs from countries including France, Austria, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia and Germany. Land for the camp was purchased from African-American farmers. After the war, the property and buildings were used as a TB sanitarium and later as a state school for adults. Currently the land is owned by Grambling State University and although the site is listed on the national register of historic places, there is no plaque to mark it as such.

Camp Ruston II (2016)
Louisiana

Camp Ruston III (2016)
Louisiana

Eden Camp I (2016)
North Yorkshire, England
Following WWII, when it held Italian and German POWs, the site was used as a refugee camp, an agricultural holiday camp, and a prefabricated concrete business. It was slated to become a potato chip factory until several former POWs asked the owner to tour the buildings in which they had once lived, introducing the idea of preserving site as a museum.

Eden Camp II (2016)
North Yorkshire, England

Eden Camp III (2016)
North Yorkshire, England

Eden Camp IV (2016)
North Yorkshire, England

Edinburgh Castle I (2016)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Beginning in 1796 with the arrival of POWs from France, the castle prisons in Edinburgh, Scotland, came to hold Spanish, American, Irish, German, Polish and Dutch POWs from multiple conflicts. The castle was also the site of executions by burning at the stake or strangulation of people accused of witchcraft in the 1500s.

Edinburgh Castle II (2016)
Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle III (2016)
Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle IV (2016)
Edinburgh, Scotland

Meeting of Rivers (2016)
Birchwood, TN
At the convergence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers where in 1838 during the Genocide of American Indians more than 9000 Cherokee and Creek peoples were held before the forced migration to Oklahoma.

Trucks, Trailers (2016)
Birchwood, TN
At the Blythe Ferry dock, large trucks with boat trailers parked along the road that is marked some distance later as the Trail of Tears.

Trail of Tears (2016)
Birchwood, Tennessee

Census (2016)
Cherokee Removal Memorial Park / Birchwood, TN
A memorial engraved with the names of those included in the 1835 Census of the Cherokee.

Frongoch I (2016)
Wales
Stopping for lunch, my friend Mickela and I spoke to a young man working at Caffi Frongoch in Wales. He directed us to the site of this camp where approximately 1,800 Irish prisoners were transported from Dublin, Ireland and held after the Easter Rising of 1916.

Frongoch II (2016)
Wales

Franklin & Armfield I (2019)
Alexandria, VA
The Franklin & Armfield office in Alexandria, Virginia was used to hold enslaved people bought by Isaac Franklin and John Armfield to be sold to states in the lower South.

Two Chimneys: Franklin & Armfield Slave Office II (2019)
Alexandria, VA

Franklin & Armfield Slave Office III (2019)
Alexandria, VA
In May 2019, the Northern Virginia Urban League and the Office of Historic Alexandria began a collaboration to continue to maintain the site as a museum.

Camp Princeton I (2016)
Princeton, TX
This site served as a camp for migratory workers before it was converted into a POW camp in World War II. German POWs were held here and provided cheap farm labor until the war ended. A rusting water tower and a plaque sit on the site but no buildings remain.

Camp Princeton II (2016)
Princeton, TX

Camp Princeton III (2016)
Princeton, TX