Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the American Justice System

Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the American Justice System

25 August–06 January 2019

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, Texas | Website

Walls Turned Sideways includes artists from across the United States who have addressed the criminal justice system and prison-industrial complex through their artistic practice. Representing the full range of contemporary art production made in the studio and the social realm, the exhibition includes artworks that take issues of social justice as a subject for images and objects, position the prison and court systems as structures for questioning through institutional critique, and aim to change legislature as part of a social practice.

The exhibition asks a number of challenging questions of the visitor. What is the social role and responsibility of the artist in times of political urgency? What functions can art and artists fulfill in the social and political landscape? How can looking at the prison system through the lens of museology offer to its analysis? What role does visibility play in punishment systems? Walls Turned Sideways is the first museum presentation to consider the topic. An accompanying catalogue begins to write a history of artist-led activism and activist-inspired art that seriously calls into question the criminal justice system.