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The Writing on the Wall - President's Gallery Exhibit
Start Date: 5/2/2015Start Time: 9:00 AM
End Date: 5/2/2015End Time: 5:00 PM
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Event Description:

John Jay College of Criminal Justice Presents..... The Writing on the Wall

ON DISPLAY:
April 20th, 2015 through May 22, 2015

OPENING RECEPTION:
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
5:30-7:30pm
President's Gallery


​Writing on the Wall ​is a collaborative installation between the visual artist Hank Willis Thomas and the professor and journalist Baz Dreisinger, The Writing on the Wall comes to John Jay College after debuting in September, 2014, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, where it was part of the Peoples’ Biennial.

The installation is made from essays, poems, letters, stories, diagrams and notes written by individuals in prison around the world, from America and Australia to Brazil, Norway and Uganda. The hand-written and typed pieces were accrued by Dr. Dreisinger during her years teaching in US and international prisons, in the context of both the Prison-to-College Pipeline program she founded at John Jay and her forthcoming book Incarceration Nations: Journeying to Justice in Prisons Around the World.

On a basic and literal level, The Writing on the Wall is about giving voice to the voiceless and humanizing a deeply de-humanized population. It represents a kind of modern-day hieroglyphics, projecting a hidden world into a very public space and allowing a people too often spoken of and for—by politicians and a punishment-hungry public—to speak for themselves, in the most intimate of ways. It is a tribute to the power of the pen, a deliberate verbal intrusion and an assertion that some words need very much to be seen in order to be heard. Indeed the writing is not just on the wall but on the floor, on every inch of the installation space, such that the viewer, unable to look away, is compelled to confront a crisis: global mass incarceration. The piece thus fittingly references the Biblical story in which the writing on the wall, as interpreted by the prophet Daniel, foreshadowed imminent doom and destruction.

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