For those of you who pining for a very unusual and moving site visit closer to home (OK, I’m making an assumption a lot of my readers are from Boston) you could visit the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia while I am visiting medieval crypts in Germany. This 1800’s prison, is now a Beautiful Ruins and has been open to the public since 1994. It is for this institution that the term “penitentiary” (meaning prison) was coined. The revolutionary wagon wheel structure of the architecture was designed to house inmates in solitary cells (a Quaker based idea, considered a forward thinking, humane notion at the time!). The theory was that alone with their own thoughts, inmates would meditate on their misdeeds and become penitent. On the bright side each inmate was encouraged to spend time outdoors for recreation and gardening. Corporal punishment was banned and, amazingly, Eastern State Penitentiary had central heating, running water and flush toilets in the cells before the White House did!
Besides the incredibly evocative ruins that one can walk through
this historic site runs a very interesting, dare I say, QUIRKY, artist opportunity. Artists can apply to do an art installation occupying one of cells. There are about four installations up at a time. Here’s a couple:
In the above installation the entire interior surface of the cell, walls and furniture are covered with knitted fabric)
This was an absolutely riveting installation: a video projection of a trans inmate describing her heartbreaking experience in prison.
(Sorry, I did not note the names of these artists so cannot give them credit here. I anyone knows, please tell me and I’ll add that in)
I keep mulling over proposal ideas in my head. Perhaps one of you will be tempted to submit a proposal. Let me know if you do. Next deadline for submission of proposals: June 17, 2015.
OK, next blog post (assuming I can figure out how to do by phone) will be from Germany–the much anticipated Ossuary trip.