Prisoner’s Cinema

A curatorial statement

Prisoner's Cinema was on view in the Gelman Gallery from January to March 2016. The exhibition was curated by Nick Missel MFA 16 Sculpture and Thalassa Raasch MFA 16 Photography.

The following text originally appeared in v.1: A RISD Grad Journal

Prisoner’s Cinema drew inspiration from a perceptual phenomenon of the same name that is caused by prolonged solitary exposure to darkness. The experience is most often reported by astronauts, truck drivers, pilots, meditators and prisoners confined to dark cells. They describe seeing colorful patterns of flashing light that refract, vibrate, glitch, form into figures and dematerialize in an intense and overwhelming way.

We took the prisoner’s cinema as an entry point to connect with artists who are exploring themes of isolation, containment, synesthesia, simulation and fragmentation. By blacking out the windows and doors and spotlighting the work only as needed, we immediately immersed the viewer in an adjusted and intimate visual space. Works such as Space for Continuous Eye Contact, by Bobby Anspach, and Peach Blossom Shangri-la 2.0, by Tim Wang and Amelia Zhang, produced their own luminosities. Constant Surround, a multi-channel sound performance by Edek Sher, shifted sound throughout the gallery, responding directly to the space, artworks, audience and concept of the prisoner’s cinema.

The artists’ works became apparitions within the darkened gallery, reinforcing moments of transportation, immersion and intimacy that pulled viewers through their own, sometimes sinister, sometimes thrilling, prisoner’s cinema.

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