Opening Friday January 5th 7 - 9pm
Exhibition runs January 5th - February 15
Forest City Gallery
258 Richmond St., London, ON, N6B 2H7
35+ Prisons in Québec is a sculptural artwork based on site visits to all federal and provincial prisons in Québec, from 2016 to 2017. The project understands prison as a system of power relations that extend far beyond concrete block walls, and in turn, the work asks “outsiders” to position themselves within this dynamic. 35+ Prisons in Québec locates prisons in relation to the role played by the Catholic Church in building the province’s first carceral institutions, many of which remain today.
At each institution, a 9” x 12” piece of paper was placed as close as possible to the front gate on the ground in the parking lot and then rubbed with conté, charcoal, or crayon. All 35+ drawings have been photo-transferred and etched with acid onto copper plates, which lie in two long rows along the floor of the gallery: one plate for each site visited. A stained glass window, featuring an upside-down fleur-de-lis and maple leaf, illuminates the room in amber light. As well, a large poster hangs on the wall, listing all the prison sites and the distance between each institution and Forest City Gallery itself.
Despite the fact that half of the prisons in the province are situated in suburbs and city centres, the location of prisons remains hidden from our everyday public knowledge. This is due to the ongoing invisibilization of those on the inside and those who are most in conflict with the law: Indigenous people, people of colour, people living with mental illness, and people living in poverty.
Sites near gas stations, sites surrounded by tall corn fields, sites next to Percé Rock and lines of RV homes, sites next to highways that lead to hydro dams and copper mines, a site next to a church and a grocery store that bustles on Sundays.
Thank you to The Canada Council for the Arts, Atelier Circulaire, Centre du Vitrail, Forest City Gallery Board and Staff, Termite, Eveline Lupien, Giselle Dias, Ed, Michelle, Skye, Nasrin, Emma, Nadege, Mark, Jeffrey, Carol, Manu, Pasc, and Sav.
Decolonizing Anti-Prison Work
Saturday January th, 6–9 pm
The Arts Project
203 Dundas St., London, ON, N6A 1G4
This circle process, facilitated by Giselle Dias, will create an opportunity for conversation that will deepen our understanding of the ways in which the current criminal (in)justice system maintains colonial systems of control. It will also offer participants an opportunity to explore their own understanding of the prison industrial complex, talk about ways of resolving harm and find ways to work towards decolonizing anti-prison movements.
Giselle Dias Bio:
Niigaanii Zhaawshko Giizhigokwe (Leading Blue Sky Woman) is a Métis organizer and activist. She has been working on issues related to prisoners’ rights, penal abolition, and transformative justice for 25 years. Her most recent work involves decolonization and indigenizing education, and anti-prison movements.