Shoreditch Town Hall, London
This exhibition, focusing on the various issues raised by imprisonment, drags the visitor into the centre until the viewer and their reactions become as important as what is being shown.Typical images of imprisonment are expanded to include schools, offices, homes, zoos, and hospitals.
Viewers are led through the various corridors in the town hall basement, which has been turned into a labyrinth of cells and walkways. Facts such as "in September 1997, the UK prison population was 62,481 - the highest in Europe," are disseminated in almost every room. Statistics, stories and images of incarceration flood the various rooms. Much of the information is based on experiences of people who lived in mental hospitals, spent long periods in hospital or who were prisoners. In a corridor lined with telephones, you can listen to prisoners' stories about their confinement.
Throughout, the visitor is supposed to feel how someone imprisoned might feel. This is achieved through such Orwellian techniques as entering cells whose doors automatically lock. To leave, the hapless visitor must wait until someone enters the room. Their reactions are captured by a surveillance camera and relayed to monitors outside, turning the viewer into the object of the exhibition.
Shoreditch Town Hall, Rivington Street, London, until 23 November. Booking: The Albany, 0181 692 4446. Admission is free but reservations are recommended.Reuse content