Alcatraz—infamous for its legendary inmates—is much more than its grim history. Hidden Alcatraz focuses on the current state of the island fortress, presenting a unique collection of nearly one hundred images taken over a four-year period by thirty-four photographers, including Steve Fritz, Deborah Roundtree, Robert Dawson, Alex Fradkin, Thom Sempere, and Michael Venera. As participants in workshops on “the Rock,” hosted by the National Park Service and Photo Alliance of San Francisco, these photographers were granted unprecedented access, even staying overnight in the main cellblock. The resulting pictures present diverse visions of beauty in decay. They highlight the eerie, almost supernatural mood of the former prison, bringing texture to its historical artifacts and architecture, and evoking the extreme isolation and despair of inmates whose only remaining traces are suggestions of blood spatters and scratches on the walls. Hidden Alcatraz includes a foreword by actor Peter Coyote, who was present during the 1971 occupation by members of the American Indian Movement, and an introduction by John Martini, one of the island’s first park rangers and an expert on its history.
Steve Fritz is a fine art photographer who has had numerous solo and group shows. Deborah Roundtree is creative director and principal of Roundtree Visuals, an art consulting firm. Her group and solo exhibitions include the London Museum of Science, the Sydney Opera House, and New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“This collection of photographs is at once beautiful and haunting. It captures the unique mood of this small but fabled rock anchored off of that small but fabled city of San Francisco. Anyone who knows of the legend of Alcatraz will want this book.”
Gray Brechin, historical geographer and author of Farewell, Promised Land and Imperial San Francisco
“The photographers were not just tourists to 'the Rock.' Their unique access enabled them to become participants in an evolving history and address the experience of over two hundred years of human occupation on this fascinating island.”
Mark Klett, photographer, After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire
Audio file of the foreward to Hidden Alcatraz by Peter Coyote
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