This sounds interesting if you’re near Nottingham between now and mid-December:
Vito Acconci, Shaina Anand, Atelier Van Lieshout, Angela Bulloch, Chris Evans, Harun Farocki, Dan Graham, Group d’Information sur les Prisons, Mona Hatoum, Thomas Hirschhorn, Evan Holloway, Ashley Hunt, Elie Kagan, Multiplicity, Bruce Nauman, Tatiana Trouvé, Artur Zmijewski
Sixteen international artists become “inmates” in The Impossible Prison, an exhibition in an abandoned police station inspired by Michel Foucault’s thoughts on power, control and surveillance.
The police station, which closed following the 1984 Miner’s Strike, is part of the Galleries of Justice, a crime museum in Nottingham. Built into the cliff that runs through the city, it houses Her Majesty’s Prison Service collection. With five subterranean floors of cells, courts and dungeons that date from 1375, it is a literal archaeology of punishment. Foucault described his own approach to history as ‘archaeological’.
Foucault himself is represented in the exhibition by key material related to the Group d’Information sur les Prisons (1971-72) that he co-founded and lead. Its purpose was to develop a counter-discourse on French prisons voiced by prisoners themselves. The group consisted of progressive magistrates, lawyers and social workers, ultra gauchists, ex-inmates and prisoners’ families, as well as French intellectuals including Hélène Cixous, Gilles Deleuze, Jean Genet and Jean-Paul Sartre. Elie Kagan’s visceral photographs of one day in the life of GIP, agitating at the Ministry of Justice re-invoke their struggles.
The Impossible Prison, through contributions by artists and the accompanying public programme, evokes the contemporary carceral, on both micro- and geopolitical scales, from the ‘architecture of occupation’ in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Multiplicity; Weizman), to ubiquitous CCTV on our city streets (Anand); from the exercise of disciplinary techniques in the modern office (Hatchuel and Starkey), to the privatization and expansion of America’s ‘prison industrial complex’ (Hunt) whose population has reached a staggering two million. The range of concerns reflects the national and transnational diversity of the artists’ lives. Together they come from or live in Palestine, Mumbai, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Beirut, Brussels, Rotterdam, Berlin, Warsaw and Milan.
These and other lines of enquiry will be developed in a cross-disciplinary programme of lectures and workshops by Armand Hatchuel (The Long Detor: Foucault’s History of Desire and Pleasure), Ashley Hunt, Lisa LeFeuvre, David Macey (The Lives of Michel Foucault), Jonathan Rée, Ken Starkey (Foucault, Management and Organisation Theory), Eyal Weizman (A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture), and Erwin James (A Life Inside: A Prisoner’s Notebook). A Reader brings together texts by Foucault, Deleuze, Macey, Hirschhorn, Farocki, LeFeuvre, Daniel Defert and Alessandro Petti.
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