Friday, 20 September 2013

When opportunities are seized, they multiply

Creating art is usually a selfish act, the artist flinging his or her genius at the world, like a macaque monkey flinging it's poop.  This is especially true of artists like T. Emin.

Either that or art is a commercial proposition.  Pictures which sell are copied, parodied, cloned and on the shelves of B&Q.  The same picture in every room of a Holiday Inn? No problem. The same picture in every hotel, in every city, in every country? No problem.

But sometimes art can be more, can be selfless, can be a random act of kindness.  Here's an example. First you need a bit of background:  read about Tamms Supermax Prison here.  Here's a sample:

  • The first men at Tamms were transferred there from other prisons around the state for a one-year shock treatment intended to break down disruptive prisoners and make them more compliant. But the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) left them there indefinitely. A decade later, more than a third of the men at Tamms had been there since it opened, and for no apparent reason.

Some men had been there for decades.  This project by Tamms Year Ten invited inmates of Tamms to ask for photographs, describe the pictures they wanted to see.     Read about Photo requests from solitary

The requests are a kind of outsider poetry:

       My family together 
       My daughter along with her mom
       along with my mom:
       along with my three sisters
       along with my two (2) brothers.
        I’d like them all in one (1) photo together.
       You’d have to get them all together.
       If you need contact my mom.
       Other then that I don’t have their addresses.
       I’ve been locked down for 22 years almost.
      A grey & white (mix) “Warmblood” horse(s)
      in an outdoor environment —
      shown in action,
      such as rearing up or jumping or climbing.
      I’d like the photo to convey freedom,
      strength, and the wisdom of nature.
      Additional instructions: If possible,
      taken in a cold environment
      so that clouds of hot breath can be seen.
the pictures are a gift in return. Together they are art of a kind which makes me proud to be a member of the human race.  Oh, and Tamms is closed now.

In the UK today the government announced plans to ban smoking in prisons.

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