In 2021-2022 I worked with Nasrin Navab and Pablo Mendoza to hold workshops and curate an exhibition called Reckless Law, Shameless Order. Through transnational dialogues facilitated by art and art-based workshops, formerly incarcerated artists engaged in intimate conversations and collaboratively collected created artifacts and objects about desire and sensation– desired objects during imprisonment or those that kept them connected to their outside life; installations of banned smells, videos of pervasive surveillance, and experience of time and space with artworks that could be seen only through a mirror with embedded related soundscapes. This collection along with artists’ individual artworks were displayed in this exhibition.
While different regimes and nation-states lock up people based on distinct ideas of safety and order, through a collaborative, art-based process these artists found common practices of punishment permeated through their experiences. Whether they were detained in the notorious Evin prison in Iran, in any of the horrendous prisons in Illinois, or in horrific island prisons located off Australian shores, the violence of the carceral spaces and practices could all but break their humanity and ability to care for others. As transnational research reveals the off-shoring of American practices of punishment and incarceration to nations around the globe, this exhibition shows how these practices and policies are felt by those who have experienced them. In this way, this exhibition uses sensory experiences to think through the ways that punishment is used to hold power over lives across time and nationalities.
Artists in the exhibition included Vincent Robinson, Kenneth Norton, Monica Cosby, Lauren Stumblingbear, Imran Mohammad, Pablo Mendoza, and Nasrin Navab. I developed this video with each artist describing their experiences of cameras, walls and fences post incarceration.