curated by Dr. K. Malcolm Richards, Jon F. Allen, and Rodney Thoms
"A multi-media event examining the general containment policy that confines, refines, and defines how humans conduct and are conducted through their lives in the early twenty-first century via institutions that bind. From carefully contrived cubicles in the work place and the processed packaged food we consume to the surveillance cameras that record our whereabouts and the psychiatric pills that standardize our minds and wills, this exhibition will explore and explode the categorical imperatives that rue and rule our daily existence." - Dr. K. Malcolm Richards
Opened September 10 8-12 Opening Night Performances by: DV Nikt, Gruesome Twosome (Lora Bloom and Kenny Brown), and Justice League of AdversariesÂ
Also featuring sound man and DJ David S. Aponte
Closed October 1 8-12 Closing reception featured the film Samuel Fuller's "Shock Corridor" with lecture/discussion by the curators.
Steven Dufala / Billy Dufala / Paul D'Agostino / Carolina Maugeri / Brian Spies / Dr. Kevin RichardsÂ
/ David E. Williams / Ben Coover / Mary Coyle / Adam Simon / Jon F. Allen / Timothy Allen / DV Nikt
Jordan Graw / Joshua Borden / David S. Aponte / Tina Zavastanos and S. O'Brien/ Thomas MicchelliÂ
Yes. Initially the container was protection from the rain, hail, lightening, snow, dirt and sand. But things got more complicated. Quoting Morris: â€œReconsidering the idea that â€˜the law forbids men to do only what their instincts incline them to doâ€™, we might re-word it to the effect that â€˜the law forbids men to do only what the artificial conditions of civilization drive them to do.â€™â€? The artificial conditions Morris refers to is the conflation of haves and have-nots as dictated by the polarization of smaller pseudo-tribes or classes under one Super-leader. Offenders were cast out and slaves were relegated to detainment as the rule of law progressed. French philosopher/historian Michel Foucault wrote of the alienated, mentally disturbed class. In 14th century France the offense sometimes consisted of merely being perceived as â€œmad.â€? Foucault described the earlier plight of these 14th century madmen; thinkers and speakers of absurdities and obsessions, sometimes more enlightened than the healers who claim the powers to cure them. Those people disdained by the fearful and uneducated. He described them being so unwanted that they were (at least it seemed perpetually) carted around on a Ships of Fools. Thus, he makes clear that Bosch's painting of the same name was more than a symbolic-poetic gesture; rather, it is taken from reality.
The insane were carted around on ships up to a point, but then it was realized that further containment was necessary in order to keep them separated from civilized peoples and to provide facilities to attempt to cure them. Concerning the insane Foucault wrote:
Frequently they were handed over to boatmen: In Frankfurt, in 1399,
seamen were instructed to rid the city of madmen who walked about
the streets naked; in the first years of the fifteenth century, a criminal
madman was expelled in the same manner from Mainz. Sometimes the
sailors disembarked these bothersome passengers sooner than they had
promised; witness a blacksmith of Frankfurt twice expelled and twice
returning before being taken to Kreuznach for good. Often the cities
of Europe must have seen these â€˜ships of foolsâ€™ approaching their
This now primitive practice was followed by the expansion of a type of hospital which was really a containment prison. Throughout the centuries, the prison construct has expanded from innovations in interior surveillance such as the Jeremy Benthamâ€™s panopticon, a circular fortress with a central cylindrical observatory above the inmates, symbolically invoking an omniscient other, to the privatization of prisons and the waning of federal and state authority within the carceral industry. These contemporary prisons rely on surveillance cameras and two-way mirrors in place of a central observatory. But the essence of the panopticon holds sway beyond a particular architectural plan as technologies adapt and mutate. The omniscient eye shoots, captures and can be everywhere all the time.Â
One may not be literally placed in prison to be affected by the tendrils of containment. The industrial revolution provoked the imperative for mass manufacturing and the consumption of products, leading to the containment of the food supply by aggressive monopolists. Today, food is on the verge of being entirely controlled by Monsanto, the corporation that places patents upon the natural world. This Wal-Martian feudal lord corporatism negates all notions of a free market. Nation-states unto themselves with vast land, workers, even their own police, and rampant camera surveillance, todayâ€™s mega-corporations impose an economic feudalism on a de-sensitized third estate. When corporate sponsored germ warfare is initiated, we will be carted off into privately, and federally owned work/quarantine prisons.Â
For now, the serfs of the monopolist overlords are recruited into office containers to submit to work in containment cubicles with not enough time away from the office master to grow their own food supply or even raise their children properly. The human subject is contained from birth. As if being subjected to the state indoctrination school system werenâ€™t enough, children are designated with either a good or bad mental health label. The type of mental state that is deemed health is one that is deleterious to independent functioning within the metropolitan super-tribe. The super-tribe demands its school employees to be team players, not individuals. The malevolent mental health label ignores the strengths of individuals, and qualifies them for brain containment medications. These medications alternately serve three functions: the mind control manipulation of a genetically patented slave class (initially perceived as the malleable worker class), the engineering of mind-control assassins (since the monopolists view their human subjects as product and chattel, waste disposal is necessary especially during excessive growth spurts), and further demoralization (sad faces of starving children to be aired in between consumer targeted television programming so the monopolists can flaunt their charity structured â€œgood guy badgeâ€? machines). Persistent assaults of televised emo-terrorism and the antithesis of critical thought called â€˜religiousâ€™ programming further weaken the populace.
Somewhat, but not totally dissimilar to Bradburyâ€™s Fahrenheit 451, the main art to be viewed in this dystopia will be bland and tranquil works such as Thomas Kincaidâ€™s happy cottages. The drones will equate their medicine with Sleepytime tea. Prints, cups and calendars of these types of paintings in every containment structure on the grid will serve to promote non-thought and calm for always-working-workers fantasizing banally. In contrast, tamper proof brains may re-interpret cubist works as a reminder of the inescapable labyrinthine Chinese macrame knot of the state for which there is no escape or solution as death ray satellites orbit the earth, remote mind-control military slaves patrol the sectors of the grid, and synthetic drugs are gradually replaced by microscopic nano-bots that the human subjects cannot simply refuse to take or spit out.
And so we the slaves and even our enslavers have assured our perpetual containment via technological advances put to unethical use under the auspices of medical cures and the warding off of predators. We sit in our electronic zoo cages absorbing falseness for truth, and eating degenerative poisons. While outside the containers, radiation will spread and everything will die.
But there is a possibility of hope. The same thought containing enframements known as computers and television are in America still a democratic form of media (computers more so). But not just that! Multi-media exhibits such as Containment Policy must outflank the contagion of mediocrity that has spread throughout the art world. We, the critics and culture-jammers can override the mind control spin of the major news outlets. We have a voice, and the Wild West frontier of information that is the Internet, cable access television, non-corporate sponsored television, public spaces, and even the spaces we curate provide forums at our disposal.Â 2011 this essay is contained and owned by www.jonfallen.com