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Artist's 'burial' challenges views of imprisonment

30 July 2015
Verge Gallery and Sydney Institute of Criminology exhibition draws crowds

In a packed gallery, Lucas Davidson was buried almost entirely beneath gravel to highlight the effects of solitary confinement.

Lucas Davidson's artwork 'Black Cell'. Photograph: Jessica Maurer

Lucas Davidson's artwork 'Black Cell'. Photograph: Jessica Maurer

Davidson performed Black Cell at the Doing Time exhibition, which is being hosted by the University of Sydney's Institute of Criminology at Verge Gallery from July 16. 

Davidson's endurance performance responds to the more than 60 days former prison inmate Brett Collins spent in solitary confinement in the 1970s.

"Black Cell, the work aims to bring awareness to a range of mental health issues that can be encountered in solitary confinement, including anxiety, paranoia, aggression and depression," says Davidson.

"The Sydney Institute of Criminology has a long history of probing the causes, impacts and responses to crime," says Dr Garner Clancey, its deputy director.

"The Doing Time exhibition seeks to explore experiences and perspectives of incarceration and imprisonment. With record numbers of prisoners 'doing time' currently in New South Wales, this exhibition is a timely reminder of the human costs of crime and punishment."

Through their work these artists help us to acknowledge that while certain subjects have a seemingly remarkable capacity for doing time, others have time done to them
Carrie Miller, Curator

Another work in the exhibition by Carolyn McKay, titled Model Prison, combines her artistry with her ongoing PhD in Criminology. McKay, who also lectures at Sydney Law School, says the court appearance of incarcerated defendants is increasingly facilitated by live links between courtrooms and prisons. 

"Instead of embodied presence, inmates appear virtually, digitally encased and hermetically sealed on screens and remote from their own legal proceedings," says McKay.

Curator Carrie Miller says the works in Doing Time contribute to alternative discourses around the "politics and ethics of imprisonment". 

"Through their work these artists help us to acknowledge that while certain subjects have a seemingly remarkable capacity for doing time, others have time done to them," says Miller.

Exhibition details

What: Doing Time
When: Until August 8
Where: See map
Hours: 10am-5pm Tuesday to Friday and 11am-4pm Saturday
Cost: Free to attend

Verge Gallery

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