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September 17, 2017 to February 18, 2018


Queens Museum
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens  New York  11368
United States
Queens Museum of Art

Sable Elyse Smith: Ordinary Violence

Image: Sable Elyse Smith, Men Who Swallow Themselves in Mirrors (video still), 2017. Courtesy the artist

Sable Elyse Smith’s project, 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, photographic and textual works to visualize the ways in which an impersonal bureaucratic system of incarceration take effects on the bodies and minds of the extended network of people bound to it.

A central focus of the exhibition is 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.