A visit to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City for a look at the exhibition “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” The exhibition examines how artists bear witness to our society’s extensive use of imprisonment. NYC-ARTS spoke with Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University and the curator of the exhibition.

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> [Background Music] NOW, A NEW ON P.S. 1, LONG ISLAND CITY, THE SOCIETY'S EXTENSIVE USE OF IMPRISONMENT.

MARKING THE TIME OF MASS INCARCERATION, TIME CONSUMING AND SECRETIVE WAYS ARTISTS MUST USE TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES.

THOSE OUTSIDE OF THE PENAL SYSTEM AFFECTED BY IT WE SPOKE WITH NICOLE R. FLOOETWOOD, AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY AND THE CURATOR OF THE EXHIBITION.

LIFE IN TIME IS A LARGE GROUP EXHIBITION THAT LOOKS AT THE IMPACT OF MASS INCARCERATION.

THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY CRIMINALIZATION.

ARTISTS WHO ARE CURRENTLY IN PRISON OR HAVE BEEN IN PRISON.

AND ABOUT A THIRD OF THE ARTISTS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN IN PRISON, BUT FOR MANY YEARS, MAKING WORK THAT INVESTIGATES PRISONS, ANTI-BLACK VILEPS, AND THE RANGE OF ART IN THE EXHIBITION CHALLENGE ASSUMPTIONS OF WHAT IMPRISONED PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF.

THEIR INTEREST, THEIR ACCESS, THE KIND OF RESOURCES THAT THEY BRING INTO THEIR CREATIVE LIVES, AND MOST IMPORTANT THINGS, HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER TO CREATE COMMUNITY AROUND ART.

ONE OF THE FIRST WORKS THAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE GALLERY IS TA MECCA COLE'S LOCK IN THE DARK, IT IS INCREDIBLY POWERFUL.

SHE WAS IN PRISON FOR 26 YEARS.

SHE MADE THAT WORK IN RESPONSE TO SOME ABUSES SHE WAS EXPERIENCING BY PRISON STAFF.

INSTEAD OF SAYING ANYTHING OR DOING SOMETHING THAT COULD HAVE EXTENDED HER SENTENCE, SHE TURNED TO MAKING ART.

SHE SAID IN THE MAKING OF THAT WORK SHE CREATED HER OWN PLACE OF SURVIVAL.

ANOTHER ARTIST IN THE SHOW, DEAN GILLESPIE, I THINK HIS WORK DEMONSTRATES THE WAY IMPRISONED PEOPLE, OVER HIS 20 YEARS IN PRISON, HE MADE THE VIBRANT, PLAYFUL MINIATURES, BASED ON A KIND OF NOSTANLGICAL IDEA OF AMERICAA, AND ROUTE 66, AND EVERY SINGLE MATERIAL THAT HE USED WERE ITEM THAT IS HE ACQUIRED IN PRISON, WITH THE HELP OF OTHER INCARCERATED PEOPLE, WHO WOULD HELP PROCURE MATERIALS, AND HE USED THOSE WORKS TO MANAGE WHAT I CALL PENAL TIME.

EXPERIENCING TIME AND PUNISHMENT.

HE WOULD PLAN OUT AND SAY, THIS WILL TAKE SIX MONTHS, THAT IS SIX MONTHS THAT WOULD PREOCCUPY WHEN HE WAS FOCUSING ON ART.

MANAGING TIME, AND HE HAD BEEN WRONGFULLY CONVICTED.

AS A WAY OF FILLING LIFE.

SHE HAD SOME CONTROL OVER HIS LIFE.

WHAT HE WAS DOING WAS DOING READING OF POLITICAL THEORY AND BLACK HISTORY.

ONE OF HIS PAINTINGS, CALLED ELAPSIUM.

IT IS CALLED THE BROOKS ICONIC SLAVE SHIP, USED BY BRITISH APOLITIONISTS.

HE OVER LAYS THE BLUE PRINT OF PRISON, WHERE HE WAS INCARCERATED, AND LINES UP THE HOLDING CELLS OF THE PRISON AND THE SHIP.

YOU SEE THE ARTISTS MAKING CONNECTIONS.

SLAVERY, JIM CROWE SEGREGATION, AND OTHER FORMS OF SEGREGATION AND MASS INCARCERATION.

WHEN I STARTED WORKING ON THIS, I HAD NO IDEA HOW IMPORTANT PORTRAITS ARE TO IMPRISONED PEOPLE.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND SYMBOLIC, AND LITERAL USE.

ANOTHER REPRESENTATION OF THEMSELVES, OTHER THAN THE MUG SHOT OR THE PRISON IVY CARD.

I THINK YOU SEE THAT POWERFUL EXHIBITION AND IN THE SERIES THAT CONSISTENTS OF 20 MINUTE FOR THE MOST PART GRAPHITE SKETCHES OF OTHER IMPRISONED PEOPLE.

HE IS UP TO 700 OF THESE IMAGES.

OUR EXHIBITION WAS SCHEDULED TO OPEN ON APRIL 5th.

IT WAS DELAYED, WE OPENED DECEMBER 17th.

THE WORKS ARE JARRING, AND THEY MAKE VISUAL THE MULTIPLE CRISIS OF PEOPLE IN PRISON.

WE KNOW THAT THE PANDEMIC HAS NOT BEEN CONTROLLED IN PRISONS, IT IS MORE HEIGHTENED.

RECENTLY, THERE WAS AN OUTBREAK.

THEY LOCKED DOWN THE PRISON.

WHICH MEANS PEOPLE ARE IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.

MULTIPLE LEVELS OF PUNISHMENT.

IN THE SAME ARTISTS WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN IN PRISON, MEMBERSHIP ARE ESTABLISHED ARTISTS.

AND SIMILAR.

AMERICAN ARTIST.

AND HER WORK SPEAKS SO MUCH TO MCCARTHY CLIFFORD, A WHITE MAN LIVING IN MINNEAPOLIS, CAME OUT AND WENT TO ART SCHOOL.

THEY HAVE DONE THESE TAKING THE STOOLS THAT PEOPLE SIT ON IN PRISON VISITING ROOMS AND TURNING IT INTO PLAYFUL BLUE AND GRAY OBJECT THAT REMINDS HER OF A CHILDREN'S GAME, JAX.

HIS WORK, IT WEIGHS A HALF TON.

IT CONSISTENTS OF HUNDREDS OF CAFETERIA TRAYS, THAT YOU WOULD SEE IN A PRISON.

YOU SEE THOSE TRAYS IN OTHER INSTITUTIONS LIKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OR ASYLUMS, FOR DANIEL, THAT IS IMPORTANT.

HE IS THINKING ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ALL OF THESE TYPES OF DISCIPLINARY INSTITUTIONS.

I WANT VISITORS TO REALLY BE FULLY ENGAGED BY THE EXHIBITION.

I WANT IT TO BE A DUAL-PRONGED EXPERIENCE OF BEING ABLE TO APPRECIATE THE AESTHETICS THAT ARE HAPPENING, AND ALSO, BE MORE MOTIVATED THAN EVER TO ENDING PRISONS AS WE KNOW IT.