Issue #10: Incarceration

Edited by Sylvie Myerson

So, can a performance artist really change the world? They like to think so, and let’s go along for the ride and examine the positions of one New York arts group. Today’s topic is the old Cross Bars Hilton, with particular emphasis on women in jail. The articles are eclectic, tied together only by theme and viewpoint. Subject matter is wildly varied. There’s an interview with photographer Jane Evelyn Atwood, who has documented women in jails around the world. She concludes that jails are miserable places. Another woman named Rhodessa Jones brings theater to women in jail through her Medea Project. Rather than sitting and rotting, this gives inmates a chance to do something positive and occasionally get out of the cycle of recidivism that drags them down. There’s a detailed analysis of a documentary called Corrections by Ashley Hunt, which discusses how prisons became large and more crowded and a big part of the American business scene over the past 50 years. There’s more of course, all deep think pieces on the place of incarceration in American and its effect on our society. Very heavy going, and the sort of stuff that makes you consider things you don’t normally think about.

While digging through these deep thoughts, the typography doesn’t speed the process. Since we are in the world of Art With A Capital “A,” looking like The New Yorker is not an option. Text is set in dense, fully justified blocks of what may well be Arial. It’s about two points smaller than you can read at arm’s length. While the words are worthy and well thought, it is a bit of work to actually read them. As a contrast, a piece on medical research on prisoners called “Kligman’s Farm” is done as a hand-drawn cartoon on a two-page spread, making it physically easier to comprehend, and keeping the text brief enough to emphasize poignancy over indignation. I also found the ads fascinating. It’s not always clear what they are selling, but you have to check out such interesting tidbits as the “Electronic Disturbance Theater.”

All in all, Sandbox is NYC Big City artiness at it’s best. People get together, form collectives, issue press releases, host Events, and then get together for drinks afterwards. All that’s missing is a manifesto. Maybe I can submit one…

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