Brandon LaBelle

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Preparations for a future library

The work explores the relation between reading and the prison, tracking the circulation of books through the cell block. The legacy of prison literature highlights the power of the book to support acts of resistance from within the cell. The book is a vital medium for establishing contact to the outside, as well as creating an alternative space for combating what it means to be incarcerated. As various testaments reveal, reading books in prison affords instances of temporary escape, where text envelopes the body in an alternative reality, one separate from the hard edges of the prison. The book can act as means for self-education, learning and rehabilitation often at odds with the intensity of isolation.
Exploring such themes, "Preparations for a future library" acts as a collection of raw materials aimed at considering the power of the book and what a future prison library suggests for critical thought. What kind of knowledge structure does a prison library suggest, what forms of discourse does it propose, as made from inside the cell block? How do existing discourses of mobility, freedom, capital and art stand up when located behind bars? The work proposes such questions, highlighting the book as a weapon.

Exhibited at Neukölln prison,
organized by Savvy contemporary art, Berlin
June 15– June 30, 2012