Instigated in 2006, Arrested Images is an ongoing body of work presently consisting of approximately 150 artworks.* This project was initially inspired by police bookings of noteworthy individuals, varying in degrees of public recognition. Of course not all of the attention these individuals have garnered is the result of their own momentum, as forces beyond their control, such as being arrested, can play a part in the expansion of their infamy. This list includes, but is not limited to, celebrities, musicians, athletes and politicians. The majority of arrests typically result in mugshots, the primary source material for these artworks.
Although not immune from debate, the intent of Arrested Images is not to be irreverent. It is an attempt to further explore the disparity between the tailoring of a personal image and the relinquishing of any such control after one has been arrested, and their likeness recorded by law enforcement.
Documenting arrested subjects began shortly after the invention of still photography. During Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 assassination trial, Alexander Gardner photographed ‘prisoner portraits’ of the accused, something believed to have influenced a French criminologist, Alphonse Bertillon, in formulating the style of mugshots (front and side views) circulating to the present day.** Mugshots are not portraits. Portraits involve a certain kind of cultural contract between the sitter and the photographer. Mugshots are photo records simply intended for the purpose of identification. Other than being the subject, the sitter has little input.
A few other things to consider. It is important to note that not all arrested individuals are guilty of a crime. Some have been motivated by racism, as well as political or lawful corruption. There are also instances whereas an individual had been booked and charged, but for a variety of reasons the accusations have been dismissed. And curiously, there are mugshots that despite being taken by law enforcement, no charges can be found and affiliated with the person in question. Furthermore, not all arrests produce embarrassment. For instance protest participation is important to many noteworthy figures. Being arrested (or detained) is evidence of their support. Similarly, there are a few individuals who clearly exhibit the confidence that their having been arrested will add to their counter culture or street credibility. Nevertheless, the subjects of the majority of mugshots do display some level of personal embarrassment. Amongst these are depictions of individuals who’ve obviously imbibed in one substance or another, and are clearly upset about their predicament. It is also worth noting that there are a few mugshots associated with filming motion pictures or television, and not a crime.
Not all mugshots are publicly available. Where this has been the case, an alternative image of an arrested individual has been used as a source. In addition, the dates and charges cited are based on a wide variety of internet sources, so it is possible that some inaccuracies may occur.
*This website will periodically be updated with new images.
**For further elaboration on the history of mugshots see the website: top lawyer.law