A.5 Carcerality and Contemporary Art

Wed Oct 20 / 9:30 – 11:00 PDT
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  • Stephanie Grace Anderson, McGill University

This panel explores the relationship between art and the expanded terrains of contemporary carcerality, through consideration of artistic practices that directly or indirectly engage with the politics of incarceration and/or confinement. It invites papers focusing on concrete sites of incarceration as well as their porosity, attending to the ways in which "techniques and technologies of confinement seep out of 'carceral' spaces into everyday, domestic, public, and digital realms" (Carceral Geography Working Group) through distributed modes of (self)discipline, surveillance, and control. Given that rates of incarceration have risen dramatically for vulnerable sections of the population over the past 40 years, this panel asks how contemporary art can help make legible the systemic inequalities that characterize the justice system — especially the disproportionate impact of carceral logics, institutions, and technologies on BIPOC communities across North America — while casting a critical eye on the pervasive yet highly unequal "contemporary continuum of incarceration" (Jackie Wang).

Stephanie Anderson (she/her) completed her PhD in Art and Visual Culture at Western University and is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. Her dissertation, titled (End)Zone and (Out)Fields of Production: Contemporary Conditions of Labor and Artistic Critique, explores the relationship between artistic labour and recent forms of capitalist production, especially through the self-reflexive exploration of global labour politics in contemporary conceptual and performance art. Her current book project focuses on the politics of carcerality in a subset of post-1960s time-based artworks. Her writing at the intersection of performance, labour, and museum studies has been published in international journals such as Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture and The Journal of Canadian Studies.

A.5.1 Carceral Space Since the Victorian Era: The Legacy of Human Incarceration on Non-Human Animals

Anna Orton-Hatzis, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Mass incarceration has a long history and one that is not unique to humans. Many scholars trace its origins to the Prison Reform movement, and yet, it is particularly noteworthy that, whereas the topic of human captivity has been discussed at length in retrospective historical analyses, the topic of animal captivity within this discourse has been largely ignored. In Britain, the Prison Reform Movement sought to create more humane punishments for convicted criminals. As early as the 1820s, it led to a vast increase in human incarceration, thereby steadily replacing corporal forms of punishments (including hanging, exile or hard labour). Against this backdrop, the discourse of animal captivity does not surface in the broader discourse of incarceration in this period.

Despite this, I maintain that these carceral connections are apparent in the visual record and warrant interdisciplinary study. In this presentation, I will investigate the absence of a critical discourse against animals in captivity in light of the prison reform movements in Britain by examining carceral space in Sir Edwin Landseer's Isaac van Amburgh with His Animals (1839). By tracing the visual evidence of captivity in this work, this essay will reject the omission of animals from the discourse of incarceration and demonstrate how the shift in the conceptualization of human incarceration in the Victorian era had lasting implications for animal suffering to this day. As such, I will reveal why incarceration was not viewed as punitive to animals by even the most ardent animal welfare advocates in the Victorian era. In so doing, this presentation will attest to the potential of art historical analysis in the broader field of animal studies and demonstrate how, through a consideration of carceral space, the history of the animal protection movement is inextricably tied to the history of incarceration more broadly.

Anna Orton-Hatzis is a PhD student in Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY, where she specializes in European art of the nineteenth century. Anna's doctoral work investigates nineteenth-century animal painter Rosa Bonheur's sustained interest in zoology, taxidermy, veterinary science and animal welfare. Recasting typical narratives of the artist through interdisciplinary methodological approaches such as ecocriticism and animal studies, her research reveals the painter's integral, yet overlooked connection to the sciences and debates on animal welfare. Anna is also currently a graduate teaching fellow at Queens College, and in 2020, she received a curatorial fellowship from the Mellon Foundation to curate an exhibition on virtual repatriation. In 2017, she completed her studies in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities, specializing in Art History, at the University of Chicago. She received her bachelor's in joint honours Art History and Anthropology at McGill University in 2015.

A.5.2 Adrian Paci: Centro di Permanenza Temporanea. Italian Borders, Migrants, And Contemporary Art

Deborah Galante, McGill University

This paper examines the issues of borders and migrants by closely analyzing the artwork Centro di Permanenza Temporanea (Center for Temporary Permanence) [2007] by Albanian-born artist Adrian Paci. A trained artist, Paci arrived in Italy with his young family, fleeing from political instability and violence in Albania. He is part of a mass migration of Albanians to Italy that occurred throughout the 1990s. For the first time, the Italian peninsula experienced a strong influx of people in search of a better life. CPT is a short video filmed in San José, California, not far from the USA – Mexican border, comparably fraught with issues of the migrant influx. The work makes a pointed reference to existing institutions in Italy, whose function is to detain illegal migrants and determine whether they remain on Italian territory or face expulsion. Curator Edna Moshenson argues that CPT embodies the concept of liquid modernity elaborated by intellectual Zygmunt Bauman. His theory asserts contemporary society’s “dual nature”; on the one hand, striving for order, domestication and peace so that reality appears more “controllable” and less alarming. On the other hand, humanity is in constant motion with travel, globalization, precariousness and the gradual crumbling of traditional norms and values. Furthermore, Moshenson cites the idea of non-place, in reference to the airport, proposed by anthropologist Marc Augé in which he states, “If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place.” Paci’s video subtly yet powerfully denounces the ongoing treatment of specific groups of migrants at troubled frontiers and skilfully films near the USA Mexican border in California. This paper aims to explore how CPT illustrates, in parallel scenarios, the ongoing discriminatory process against migrants with “undesirable” provenances.

Originally Italian, Deborah Galante pursued her undergraduate degree at IULM University, Milan, focusing on art management with a thesis analyzing and comparing fundraising techniques between American museums, particularly the Metropolitan in New York, and Italian museums. She later obtained a master's degree in art Curatorship at Sydney University and another in contemporary art at Sorbonne University in Paris. Furthermore, Deborah co-curated the exhibition Harmonies, which was also held in Paris from September 1st until the 15th 2012 at Communic’Art – Galérie Jardin. In addition, she published for MyTemplArt Magazine, an online platform specializing in news from the art world, archival work, and digital classification of artworks. In June 2021, Deborah successfully completed her doctorate degree in the Art History and Communication department at McGill University. Her thesis focuses on contemporary migration to Italy and expounds on media representations, contemporary artworks, particularly by Adrian Paci and Bouchra Khalili and Fascist propaganda illustrations of the "common enemy" made by artists such as Gino Boccasile and Enrico De Seta. Her dissertation, moreover, examines political billboards by the anti-immigration Italian political party, La Lega, in an attempt to understand the alluring visual culture exuded by a declaredly xenophobic organization.

A.5.3 Heat as a Double Condition of Existence in Richard Mosse's Heat Maps

Kelley Tialiou

Irish artist Richard Mosse's award-winning photographic series, Heat Maps (2016), visualizes the "harsh struggle for survival lived daily by millions of refugees and migrants" in Greece and elsewhere using military-grade thermal cameras. In creating Heat Maps, Mosse paradoxically operates both from within and in resistance to dominant structures of power. On the one hand, the apparatus through which the photographer casts his gaze is, de facto, inscribed within the very same power structures determining the refugees' detention in the camps being depicted. Furthermore, the expansive panoramic compositions — organized largely by the strict and repetitive geometry of the facilities (tents, containers, etc.) depicted — reverberate the qualities of extraterritoriality, exception, and exclusion that Michel Agier attributes to refugee camps, sitting uncomfortably close to the kinds of images normally yielded by military-grade thermal cameras. On the other hand, however, the images are formed by the contrast between the migrants' body heat and the coldness of the space they occupy. Light areas in each of the Heat Maps are, quite literally, traces of life, however bare — luminous monuments to endurance in the face of extreme adversity. This paper, therefore, explores the question: Can the apparatus of the thermal camera be turned against the military-industrial complex from which it has emerged or will the aesthetics of surveillance, inherent in the medium, perpetually return to haunt the artist's cosmopolitan rejection of carcerality as a means of containing migratory flows? As I will propose, while the aesthetics of surveillance, always already present, linger in such images, this presence can be understood as emphasizing the very problem of the prevalence of carcerality that the artist seeks to expose and undermine.

A scholar of Greek and global contemporary art, Kelley Tialiou is currently completing her doctoral dissertation, New Cosmopolitan Visions of Greece in Global Contemporary Art, which has been supported by an Onassis Foundation Doctoral Scholarship and several other awards. Previously, she held positions in the curatorial departments of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College and the Addison Gallery of American Art, where she curated In Tandem: Inspirations and Collaborations (2015); co-curated LIGHT/DARK, WHITE/BLACK (2015), Loisaida: New York's Lower East Side in the '80s (2014), and Pop! Selections from the Collection (2014). Her writing has appeared in English, Greek, and Dutch in the academic journals Kunstlicht and Humanities, the literary review Paremvasi, and the award-winning digital platform The Culture Trip, while her most recent article, Conceptual Art in Ruins? Maria Eichhorn Commemorates Urban Ruination in Athens was published in the October 2020 issue of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies.

A.5.4 Imperative Art, Imperative Abolition

Sheena Hoszko, Queen's University

This paper centers on the practices of artists inside prison, including Peter Collins, those featured in the publication Words Without Walls: Writing & Art by Women in Prison in Nova Scotia (2007), and the collaboration between Jackie Sumell + Herman Wallace, as they relate to Joy James' 2019 talk The Architects of Abolitionism: George Jackson, Angela Davis, and the Deradicalization of Prison Struggles.

Sheena Hoszko is a sculptor, anti-prison organizer, and Polish settler living and working in Tio'tia:ke/Mooniyaang/Montréal. Her art practice examines the power dynamics and violence of geographical, architectural, and psychological sites, informed by her family's experiences with incarceration, the military, and mental illness. Employing strategies of post-minimalism to draw attention to the politics of space and material, Hoszko primarily uses rented and reusable materials, which re-enter the world as non-art after a project is complete. Hoszko has exhibited nationally and internationally at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, A Space in Toronto, and La Ferme du Buisson in Paris. She has held residencies at the Santa Fe Art Institute in New Mexico, La Cité internationale des arts in Paris, and Villa Magdalena K in Germany. Her writing has appeared in M.I.C.E Magazine and Free Inside: The Life and Work of Peter Collins.