Natasha Carrington




Monash University, Australia


Natasha Carrington is a multimedia artist, writer and teacher. She was born in Melbourne, Australia where she earned a degree in Fine Art at Monash University before going on to study Politics and Comparative Sociology. Her interest in institutional thinking and environmental behaviour is behind questions she raises in projects about human ethics and experience. In Idiots Imbeciles and Lunatics a video installation, she references the historical terms for psychiatric illness and examines the fine line between normal and psychotic behaviour. Her doctorate research specifically explores the extreme conditions of incarceration. Taking an ethnographic approach to unstructured interviews with Australian prisoners, she uses video to consider the experience of deprivation of liberty. As well as presenting and publishing in conferences her work has screened in film festivals and appeared in galleries throughout Australia and in Europe.


Captive Subjects: Framing and Re-framing Perpetrators of Crime


Crime has a long narrative history in literature, art, film, newspapers and popular culture. Although realist to some extent, many of these representations construct images of criminals through their narrative and aesthetic, that inject fear and excitement in place of authenticity and understanding.

I am particularly interested in the role images play in the construction of myths and how aesthetics form the signposts by which criminals are identified and categorised. To test whether art could give us an alternative representation and prisoners some agency in that, I approached Corrections Victoria with the aim of interviewing prisoners to gain a first hand account of their perceptions of imprisonment, and to film them as they really are.

Although supportive of this aim and conscious of the way stereotyping drives attitudes of Intolerance and 'otherness', Corrections Victoria expressed concerns that filming prisoners could put them at risk. The Department of Justice Ethics Committee would only approve of filming on the basis that prisoners would be shown to the public in a non-identifying manner, that is, not identifiable either visually or through voice recognition.

Would this defeat the aim? What is the relationship between appearance and identity, and more fundamentally how does that translate into aesthetics and category?

By examining our fascination with crime in film, television and the media, and comparing this with my own documentation this paper will critically examine influences that shape the ways in which we conceptualise 'criminality'. More specifically, giving focus to the role that aesthetics can play in framing the criminal, and vesting the image with the appeal of fantasy, it will question not only the social effects of representation, but also the chains that link images to power.


Thursday 29 September


11:00am - 12.30pm





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