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Sunday Reading List for September 22, In Keeping with MICA’s Constitution Day Theme

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UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1940:  Photo of Woody Guthrie  Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

This week’s Sunday Reading List is dedicated to the person at MICA’s Constitution Day Panel who asked, “What are some other strategies of non-cooperation [against political and social ills, presumably] that I can use?”

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From the Huffpost, Prisoners In Solitary Confinement Requested Photos Of The Outside World — And Here They Are by Priscilla Frank. For those who ask, ‘What can I do about the deplorable conditions of prisons in this country?’ here is a road map. This article explores the  power of artists to intervene for inmates held indefinitely in solitary confinement at Tamms Correctional Center in Illinois.

“If you were sentenced to exist in a fully confined space, deprived of human contact or any sensual stimulation whatsoever, what image would occupy your imagination? This was the question raised by a group of artists and activists who gathered in protest of the inhuman conditions at the prison.

The Committee spearheaded an art project entitled “Photo Requests From Solitary,” in which prisoners could get a glimpse of the outside world through a single photograph of anything they desired. The results ranged from photos of old neighborhoods and family members to a still of a Jennifer Lopez video, painting a fascinating and heart-wrenching picture of the mind’s desires.”

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From Art in America, The Art of Protest: An Interview with Dan Perjovschi by Olga Stefan. Want to use your drawings to fight against fascism? Dan Perjovschi is one of the most famous artists in Romania. His drawings are created so that protesters can use his images to aid in their political protest. He is currently part of a group of ‘tens of thousands’ of activists and citizens who are against a Romanian government-backed mining project.

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From Gwarlingo: Postcards from a Prison Teacher by Michelle Aldridge. The author explores a new book and shares why you should read it. I am just going to quote directly:

“2.3 million people are currently imprisoned in the United States, that’s one out of every 100 adults—more per capita than any other country in the world. (Repressive China is a distant second, with one in 1,000 adults incarcerated.)”

“As Ayelet Waldman and Robin Levi explain in the introduction to their book Inside this Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons(McSweeney’s Books, 2011), “People in U.S. prisons are routinely subjected to physical, sexual, and mental abuse,” and “people of color are vastly over-represented in the American criminal justice system.” Women face special challenges inside prison walls—rampant sexual abuse and a prison healthcare system designed for men.”

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Hyperallergic: Art Cannot Provide a Way Out by Ryan Wong. Claire Bishop has a new book out that explores the history of art as social practice. Her book is titled Artificial Hells, after André Breton, and Wong suggests, aptly, this is the “catchiest art-theory book title in memory.” If you want to find out more about the larger narrative of art and politics, theater history, Ranciere’s theories, and ‘humans-as-medium in the 20th century,’ this is the book for you.

And we’ll end things with A Twenty-One Protest Song Salute, compiled by Bill Moyers. The list includes good stuff from Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Public Enemy, and others.

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