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Title:Legislative art: Laurie Jo Reynolds and the aesthetics of punishment
Author(s):Stabler, Albert
Director of Research:Lucero, Jorge
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lucero, Jorge
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Weissman, Terri; Griffis, Ryan; Martin, Jeffrey T.
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Incarceration Social practice art Legal theory Liberal political theory History of activism
Abstract:In 2013, the lobbying group Tamms Year Ten was successful in closing the Tamms Correctional Center, a prison in which men lived in near-total and near-constant isolation. The group’s founder, Laurie Jo Reynolds, is an artist who describes her lobbying work as “legislative art,” an homage to the governmental interventions of activist Brazilian playwright Augusto Boal. Working backward from legislative art to legislative aesthetics, I postulate the potentially fruitful concepts of judicial aesthetics and executive aesthetics, borrowing the familiar American separation of powers as laid out by James Madison. I attempt to understand Reynolds’ work in a larger historical, aesthetic, and political framework by trying to describe the aestheticization of politics in America through the various mutations of racial concepts in the legal system, as well as in education, visual art, and literature. To do this I borrow ideas from the Continental political theory canon to shed light on how punishment is understood culturally in America in this moment of mass incarceration. In the end, I hope the essay yields a set of terms that allows artists and activists to have more meaningful conversations and debates, and through this dialogue to positively affect protest and policy.
Issue Date:2018-04-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 by Albert Stabler. All rights reserved.
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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