Angela Davis once said, “Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings.” MoMA PS1’s new exhibition (their first since reopening to the public), “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” began as a way for curator Nicole R. Fleetwood to process her own grief over the mass disappearance of relatives, neighbors, and childhood friends into the prison system. The exhibition follows the release of Fleetwood’s book of the same name and features works by 35 artists, both in prison and non-incarcerated. The works of art on display, which comprise only a portion of the vast collection that Dr. Fleetwood archives and explores in her book, are the products of a decade of painstaking research and relationship-building — and a commitment to make visible the humanity, talent, and resilience of the countless artists that are entrenched in or affected by the the U.S. prison system. Each piece in the show captures and preserves an individual viewpoint and experience and, in doing so, resists mass incarceration’s ultimate aim: to erase and disenfranchise.
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