Welcome To Your Cell

curated by Vanessa Renwick
VR and video installation show

Work by Erik Ruin & Gelsey Bell
and The Guardian VR directors:
Francesca Panetaa & Lindsay Poulton

 May 12th - 20th, 2018

At: Outer Space, 3726 NE 7th Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Outer Space gallery is proud to present Welcome to Your Cell, a video installation show including a virtual reality experience by Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton, as well as a video by Erik Ruin and Gelsey Bell.

Welcome to Your Cell explores the experience of solitary confinement through the work of four different artists. The exhibitions will each be presented in a 6x9 feet space- the average size of a solitary cell. 

On view will be a collaborative piece by Philadelphia-based artist Erik Ruin and experimental musician, Gelsey Bell. In Hakim’s Tale, a cut-paper silhouette of incarcerated activist, Hakim Ali, is projected onto a wall in a simulated prison cell. As Hakim narrates his experience during his two and half years in solitary confinement, we learn of his spiritual and psychological crisis, as well as his tools of resilience. 

The exhibition will also feature a breakthrough virtual reality piece by The Guardian VR directors, Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton. First featured on The Guardian’s website, and subsequently at the Tribeca Film Festival, the True/False Film Festival and the White House in DC, 6x9: A virtual experience of solitary confinement places viewers in a virtual cell, explaining the effects of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation.  

The joining of these pieces into one space urges viewers to contemplate the intersection of art and incarceration, and invites us to begin a dialogue about mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex in America. 

The Willamette Week did a nice write-up about the show. I met Francesca at the T/F Film Festival where I experienced her VR “6x9”. I thought it was a brilliant use of the medium. Outer Space seemed the perfect venue to present it, being a dark, concrete box just a little bigger than two solitary cells. I paired it with a projection of “Hakim’s Tale”. I don’t often curate, but sometimes I am moved to make a show happen so that other’s can feel. I am grateful to all who helped to bring these voices from solitary experiences out into the world. Outside. Where you stand. Happy Spring. Outside. Gina Hassle now leads the C.I.A., someone known for overseeing waterboarding, prolonged sleep deprivation and other such tactics. “other such tactics” Solitary is torture. You lose your mind. 80-100,000 people are in solitary in the USA -Vanessa Renwick

6x9: a virtual experience of solitary confinement by The Guardian VR. Directors: Francesca Panetta & Lindsay Poulton
An excellent series on solitary confinement by the Guardian is here.

Hakim’s Tale by Erik Ruin and Kelsey Bel.
Some info on their piece here.