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States of Incarceration:  Conversations on Confronting the Carceral State

States of Incarceration: 
Conversations on Confronting the Carceral State

Wednesday, November 1, 6 - 9pm
Talk begins promptly at 7pm

Project For Empty Space at Gateway
2 Gateway Center, Newark

Please join PES for a conversation addressing the carceral state through the artist’s lens on Wednesday, November 1st, from 6 - 9pm. The conversation will include Newark, NJ, States of Incarceration artists Ed Kashi, Jon Gomez, Juliet Horton and Samer Fouad whose work was developed for the Newark iteration of States of Incarceration: Seeking Asylum, Resisting Detention.

Seeking Asylum, Resisting Detention is the Newark, NJ, iteration of States of Incarceration, a traveling exhibition created by students, returning citizens, and others directly affected by mass incarceration. This iteration focuses on the Elizabeth Detention Center (EDC), opened in the mid-1990s, as concerns about terrorism and growing numbers of asylum seekers rose. The US Immigration and Naturalization Service contracted Esmor Correctional Services to open a detention facility in Elizabeth, NJ, for immigrants deemed to be in the United States illegally. In 1995, after an immeasurable number of complaints regarding the inhuman conditions of the detainment center, there was an upheaval amongst the detainees that resulted in the case, Jama v. Esmor Correctional Services. Each artist responds to this incident, examining the impact of immigrant detention in the Newark region. 

Kashi’s life-sized portraits feature former detainees who firmly stand their ground even while their physical settings seem to be receding from them, as though they are there and not there, at home and adrift, uncertain of their place in America. Gómez’s multi-channel video work explores the risks people are willing to undertake to immigrate to the United States, and poses the question ‘is it worth it?’ and ‘what is the American dream?’ Similarly, Fouad’s large-scale collage panels, which feature comparative and parallel narratives of the American Japanese internment camps of the 1940s and the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric of today, also dissects the legacy of how America treats its immigrant communities. 

Juliet Horton, a former detainee, exhibits a series of drawings she completed while incarcerated at the Hudson County Jail and Hartford Correctional Center. She was detained for 2 years, 9 months. After being separated from her 5-month year old son, Horton used art as a means to express her identity as a mother. She helped other women express their motherhood by drawing them with their estranged children. Her work depicts the need for detainees to re-define themselves as mothers in a system that disconnects them from their families.

States of Incarceration: Seeking Asylum, Resisting Detention
is a collaborative project produced by Project for Empty Space, Humanities Action Lab (HAL), Newest Americans, Rutgers University-Newark's Graduate Program in American Studies, and First Friends of NJ and NY. For more information on the project and participating artists click here: