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Photographs by Thomas Roma
Introduction by Robert Coles
Foreword by Norman Mailer
Size: 10 x 8.9 x 0.8 inches
Edition of eighty
Artist-produced signed and numbered silver-gelatin print measuring nine-and-a-half by eight-and-a-half inches in a special clothbound slipcase.
Camping out in the Brooklyn Criminal Court building from December 1997 to early 1999, Roma, photographer and director of photography for Columbia University, talked to victims, defendants, trial witnesses and their families, and sometimes took their portraits then and there. The result is this collection of 83 duotones that give human faces to the application of the law.
As Norman Mailer writes in a short foreword, “justice comes to long dead hours sitting around,” as the beleaguered visages and tired bodies here readily attest. As Robert Coles, Harvard social ethicist and presidential Medal of Freedom winner, puts it in an introduction, these photos show “the struggle of various Americans to find themselves, to get a grip on their emotional moorings, to steer clear of all sorts of perplexing and scary legal imperatives as they descend upon one’s eyes, ears, thoughts, anticipations, expectations, amidst a series of events that have their own momentum, logic, prompt their own requirements, madness, obligations.” That sentence’s complexities perfectly reflect those of the photographs.
Thomas Roma, two-time recipient of Guggenheim Fellowships, has exhibited internationally, had one-man shows at The Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography, New York. His work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Canadian Center for Architecture, Montreal. The Director of Photography at Columbia University, author of Come Sunday, Found in Brooklyn, Sunset Park, and Higher Ground, and founding contributing photographer to DoubleTake, Roma lives in Brooklyn with his wife Anna and son Giancarlo.