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Solitary Confinement is an artists’ book that not only discusses the issue of solitary confinement but demonstrates a form of confinement that readers/visitors can experience for themselves. The book sculpture is a 2×2 feet wide book which, when unfolded, is 6 feet high. The thin yet strong, almost translucent paper I’m working with turns the pages into walls symbolizing the remoteness from civilization. One is surrounded by the outer world which is out of reach. The longing for a connection is kept alive only by memory.
The past eight months have confronted us with a form of confinement that I couldn’t have imagined a year ago when I proposed this exhibition to the Hall of Fame Gallery at Bronx Community College. I wanted to create a book to demonstrate solitary confinement. I’ve met people who were confined by authoritarian forces. I’ve listened to their stories, their attempts to explain how it feels, what it does to you when you are isolated, and your ability to move when your own free will is taken away.
When I developed the concept for an exhibition a year ago, I envisioned a physical space, an actual gallery building where I would install nine artists’ book sculptures––each of them six feet high. I envisioned visitors going into them and seeing how long they could stand in such a confined space willingly. The installation was to be an artistic attempt to shine a light on confinement as a form of punishment.
By now we all have experienced a fraction of a form of confinement, knowing all too well the effects this kind of limited movement has on us. “That’s not living,” a friend of mine stated in frustration. It’s not. Now, just simply translate this notion into the form of punishment called solitary confinement – a practice in our prisons that we as a society continue to permit to those who need to demonstrate their power and will.