The images are made so that I can see the people in them, so that I can see me.
The self is contextual; contingent upon geography, system, relationship, memory, knowing…
And violence can be quotidian, like the landscape of prison shaping itself around my body. The images are made so that I can see me. I am haunted by Trauma. We are woven into this kaleidoscopic memoir by our desires to consume pain, to blur fact and fiction, to escape —Sable Elyse Smith
Sable Elyse Smith’s project at the Queens Museum, Ordinary Violence, continues her ongoing exploration of the trauma and emotional violence affected on incarcerated individuals and their loved ones. Mining her own experiences of visiting her father in prisons for the past 19 years, Smith will present a combined media installation involving video, neon and lightbox sculptures, wall-collage, and text elements to visualize the ways an impersonal bureaucratic system of incarceration take effects on the body and minds of the extended network of people bound to it.
A central feature will be a large-scale wall-collage that addresses the ubiquity of the mural art form as a backdrop for the Polaroid photos taken in prison visitation rooms, as well as the microeconomy and unspoken negotiation embedded in the creation and circulation of these images—which must be purchased with many hours of labor by the inmates. In a sharply registered contrast, very intimate moments are almost choreographed by the regulatory strictures of the visitation, and are enacted by a number of variously connected and detached agents: muralist, guard, photographer, camera, visitor, inmate receiving a visit, inmates not receiving a visit, and the room of spectators.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.