The Verdict: The Christina Boyer Case is a multi- layered case study of the U.S. Criminal Justice system and mass incarceration. In it, photographer and artist Jan Banning delves into a three decades-old murder case in Georgia. On April 14, 1992, 22-year-old Christina Boyer was arrested for killing her toddler daughter Amber and sentenced to life in prison.
The book presents the results of his extensive and years-long research. Combining documentary and staged photos with a brilliant and detailed essay, Banning offers an extraordinarily intense account of the events surrounding Christina Boyer’s conviction following the death of her young daughter.
In astonishing detail, artivist Banning describes the critical interpretations of renowned medical experts, severely criticizes the role played by the media, and gives his own visual interpretation of elements of the story. The picture is given extra breadth and depth through Banning’s decision to invite the ‘subject’ of the project, Christina Boyer, to make her own contribution by, for example, allowing him to share pages from her diaries. Additionally, she describes the associations that Banning’s photos of the South evoke in her. This provides the reader/observer insight into her inner world, showing how life imprisonment influences one’s perception of the visual world
Marc M. Howard, Professor of Government and Law at Georgetown University, sheds in his essay an alarming light on the current cruelty of the American criminal justice system.
Stylistically, the book contains references to film noir, 19th century Romantic landscapes and 17th century vanitas still lifes. It poses deep questions about objectivism versus subjectivism. In the end, the audience is challenged to judge for themselves. The entirety of the artistic visual interpretations and documentation collected presents a major political story in a unique way.
Anne Wilkes Tucker Curator Emerita of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston