35+ Prisons in Québec
Opening Friday January 5th
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.
A text by Lindsay Nixon accompanies the project.
Thank you to The Canada Council for the Arts, Atelier Circulaire, Centre du Vitrail, Forest City Gallery Board and Staff, Termite, Eveline Lupien, Lindsay Nixon, Giselle Dias, Ed, Michelle, Skye, Nasrin, Emma, Nadege, Mark, Jeffrey, Carol, Manu, Pasc, and Sav.
Decolonizing Anti-Prison Work
Saturday January 6th, 6–8 pm
Accessibility info TBA
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.
Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines:
Mental Healthcare Facility 10m2 x 2
Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility 10m2 x 2 is a sculptural artwork based on the Correctional Service Canada’s (CSC) “Federal Correctional Facilities Accommodation Guidelines.” Obtained in 2015 via an access-to-information request, this 700-page document is used by CSC for the building, maintenance, and everyday operations of prisons. In a section named “Mental Healthcare Facility,” CSC outlines the locations and spatial dimensions required for waiting rooms, bathrooms, and staff offices for the mental health wing in a prison. People with severe trauma and/or mental illnesses, due to a lack of resources for their care on the outside, are disproportionately imprisoned by CSC. Parallel to this, symptoms of mental illness increase when people are incarcerated; the notion of “care” in a carceral context is thus an oxymoron, as the conditions of imprisonment are incongruent with treatment or rehabilitation. 
Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility 10m2 x 2 consists of two closed structures that fill The New Gallery space, referring specifically to the 10m2 minimum spatial requirements for mental heathcare waiting rooms and treatment rooms. Within the gallery these spaces are constructed out of rented “pipe and drape,” a type of temporary architecture often used for dividing spaces within warehouses, stadiums, office buildings, and other open environments. “Walls” of pipe and drape hang from ceiling to floor, recalling dividers from ambiguous institutional spaces, like hospital curtains or cubicle separators—a provisional architecture that both reveals and hides. Once the exhibition period is over, the materials are returned to the rental company to be used again, suggesting that structures of incarceration circulate widely throughout society. The rooms take up most of the exhibition space; unable to enter the structures, viewers are thus constrained to the rest of the gallery with limited room to move.
The artist would like to thank Ellen Gedopt, Pascale Busseau, Sadie at PRD, Keisha Williams, Mark Clintburg, Giselle Dias, and The New Gallery board and staff.
Outsiders: The Limits of Representation of Carceral Spaces
Alberta College of Art and Design
Illingworth Kerr Gallery
1407 14 Ave NW, Calgary, AB T2N 4R3
Prison, Maps, & Health: Keisha Williams interviewed by Sheena Hoszko
02/21, 1-4 pm
Loft 112, #112, 535 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB, T2G 5S9
Free, snacks provided
For this event, Toronto-based health organizer and artist Keisha Williams will be interviewed by Sheena Hoszko regarding her artist practice, health promotion, and anti-prison work. After the talk participants will be invited to use paper and other materials to map architectural spaces, from both memory and provided floor plans. The loft is wheelchair-accessible through the front lobby. Bathrooms are gender-neutral.
Keisha Williams is a health promoter and artist working to support the health of all people, with a focus on health equity within Black/queer/trans/youth/racialized/criminalized/HIV+ communities. Currently working at PASAN, an HIV/AIDS service organization serving prisoners and ex-prisoners, she supports criminalized women and trans people. As a filmmaker and actor, she attempts to accurately portray the lives of those in communities she belongs to/works with. She fuses her experience as a health promoter with her work as a filmmaker, attempting to create socially relevant content that discusses health and social justice, while also promoting healthy sexuality. She was awarded an Access, Equity and Human Rights award in 2014 and is a recent award-winning graduate of the Masters of Public Health Program at the University of Toronto.
 Fiona G. Kouyoumdjian, Andrée Schuler, Stephen W. Hwang and Flora I. Matheson, “Research on the Health of People Who Experience Detention or Incarceration in Canada: A Scoping Review," BMC Public Health 15, no. 419 (April 25, 2015), accessed August 12, 2016, doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1758-6.
 Peter Collins, “The Pathology of Rehabilitation,” Scapegoat 7 (Fall/Winter 2014): 217–32, accessed January 12, 2015, http://www.scapegoatjournal.org.
Of Birds, Ointments, and Care: How Peter Collins’ Artworks Kept Him in Prison chapbook. Published by M.I.C.E magazine, 2017.
Drywall, Wood, Paint / 2015
Dimensions of a solitary confinement unit in Laval Quebec based on word-of-mouth testimonial. Accompanied by info flyer about solitary confinement in Quebec.
Installed at Axeneo7, Gatineau
artesia - lines
Snap line chalk, graphite, tempra paint / 2016
Site specific installation linking spaces of detention in the Southwest USA to MARFA Texas. Collaboration with Tings Chak at the Santa Fe Art Institute.
Central East Correctional Centre
Rented security fencing, letter writing and postcard writing station / 2016
Perimeter of the CBSA detention centre in Lindsay ON. Includes printed testimonial and drawings from those detained inside sent specifically to be seen in the gallery.
Installed at Peterborough’s Artspace Gallery
Toronto Immigration Holding Centre (total perimeter: 1164 feet)
Rented security fencing and postcard writing station / 2015
Perimeter of the CBSA detention centre in Toronto. Masurements obtained by walking the perimiter. Installed at Toronto’s A Space Gallery.
Centre de prévention de l'immigration de Laval / Laval Immigration Holding Centre (Périmètre total: 572 pieds / total perimeter: 572 feet)
Rented security fencing / 2014
Perimeter of the CBSA detention centre in Laval. Distance obtained by walking the perimeter of the prison.
Solo exhibition at Montreal’s Centre Clark.
Paper tag, zine / 2008
Tags placed on bikes i wanted to steal, completed as part of articule's special projects.
Outdoor event lighting / 2012
Site-specific Installation next to St. Laurent metro in Quartier des Spectacles as par of DARE-DARE’s programming. Café Cléopâtre is a 30-year old strip club & site of queer history in Montreal that has resisted gentrification.