As rightwing politicians and ideologies sweep the planet, it becomes more and more important that voices of dissent make themselves known. It’s an old and chilling truism that artists are among the first targets of repressive regimes, beauty and truth among the first casualties.
Artists including Peter Gabriel, Ana Tijoux, Tom Morello, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, and Johnny Depp are lending their names and images to “Imprisoned for Art,” a collaboration between Represent and artists rights organization Voice Project to bring awareness to artists ranging from poet Ashraf Faydah (imprisoned in Saudi Arabia) to singer Trần Vũ Anh Bình (imprisoned in Vietnam) and more, all serving time for using their work to highlight political and social injustice.
Posed as though they’re in a mugshot, while holding photographs of the artist they’re personally championing, the stars participating in the project all stress the urgency of this global political moment.
“Unfortunately, America is about to start looking more like Russia under Putin,” says Tolokonnikova. “It’s already happening, and dissent is going to become a more dangerous business. But that just means dissent is more important than ever. The good news is we can learn from each other, help each other—that we are stronger than we think, both individually and collectively, we have more fight in us that we believe. I know this from being a person in prison, but also from seeing all the people who banded together to get me out.”
In a statement released to the press, Ana Gabriel, co-founder of and photographer for Voice Project says she took inspiration from old mugshots of celebrities involved in previous acts of resistance.
“We took inspiration from those classic old black and white mug shots of artists like Jim Morrison – I’ve always loved Jane Fonda’s, with her fist in the air. She’s so strongly defiant in that, it so perfectly captures that essence of someone unbowed, someone willing to speak truth to power despite the consequences. The types of people we’re defending are ones who have spoken out in spite of the consequences, and that takes courage, so I wanted to make a connection to powerful imagery. If it’s jarring to see some recognized faces with ten year sentences hanging around their necks, that’s good, it should be.”
The pairings are as follows (alphabetically):
Alex Ebert with singer Trần Vũ anh Bình imprisoned in Vietnam
All images courtesy Voice Project.