Friday, 28 October 2011

Go to gaol at the Southbank

I went to the Southbank the other day to see Steve Earle - as mentioned here before I'm a bit of an obsessive fan and have to catch him every time he tours. It was a great night -  and I thought one of the best performances I'd seen from him for several years. 

But enough of that: Whilst waiting for the show to start I looked around the free exhibitions in the foyers. Since I've slipped from the ranks of the frankly over-paid to those of the unemployed I've developed a particular appreciation for that kind of thing.

First up there was an exhibition of prisoners' art. In terms of quality I suppose you could say  it was mixed. Some of it looked like school room stuff - although the best of it could have sat in any 'proper' gallery. But all of it was moving and real. -  And in other circumstances if I read something like that in connection with looking at pictures I'd be the first to consign the author to pseud's corner.

I also saw the GoToJail installation. A reconstruction of a cell - complete with a couple of ex-prisoners you can enter the cell and talk to. 

I've never been inside a cell - other than a short spell in a police station after being nicked at a demo. But the thought of being in prison - usually in some kind of Kafka-esque unexplained way - is a recurring nightmare. Now I know that this is no irrational night terror. 

The installation is a recreation of a modern cell  - so presumably it is  a bit more bearable than the Victorian cells in many UK prisons. It may be plastic and clean, but it is an unimaginably  tiny space for two adult men to share with no privacy and no personal space. In fact I was reminded of the cabin of a cross-channel ferry - without the en-suite shower/toilet obviously - you'd  have to co-ordinate your every movement with your cell mate because there's not enough room for you to both stand up and move around at the same time.

And everyone of those Daily Mail prison's like a holiday camp fuckers should be forced to spend 24 hours in it.

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