Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Prisoner Inventions

Temporary Services has been doing a project with inmates that investigates inventive strategies for coping with captivity.

Working with an inmate who goes only by Angelo, this project has exhibited since March of 2003 and, this February, will be shown at the Transmediale Festival, Berlin, Germany.

In a 2003 interview with Craig Buckley, Temporary Services discribes the difficulties and limitations inherent in this project.

Prisoners’ Inventions is, in essence, about how inmates make things they are not allowed to have so it would be hard to believe that any prison’s administration would let us visit and work with the inmates on this project. This rules out the possibility of taking photos, doing video, or getting the actual objects directly from prisoners. Angelo could not even receive a newspaper article on this project because it included one of his own drawings showing how to make an electrical cigarette lighter! Likewise, neither Angelo nor his cellmate Paul have been able to receive copies of the Prisoners’ Inventions book. Angelo has, quite literally, written a book that he is not allowed to have. It is our understanding that prisoners cannot correspond with inmates in other institutions so Angelo is also distanced from some of the former cellmates whose inventions he describes. Jerry, who is frequently mentioned in the book, was transferred to another prison. He has no awareness of the book because Angelo can’t write to him (We will try to send him a copy).

Read Angelo's artist statement


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