Captive Audience is an exhibition of artwork, cultural products, and industrial design created by, for, about, or in collaboration with people who are imprisoned. From music and spoken word records, drawings, video projects, photographs, posters, written correspondence, movies, and stills; to mass produced toothbrushes, jumpsuits, sneakers, and mattresses designed for prisoners; Captive Audience allows visitors to the exhibition to experience the material conditions of prisoners’ lives and review artwork made in, for, or about prison life. It included materials or participation from Angelo, Chicago County Fair, David F., Stephanie Diamond, Friends Beyond the Wall, Lucky Pierre, Mary Patten, phonograph records recorded by inmates and/or in prisons, Prison Blues®, prison products designed for inmate use, LJ Reynolds, Risk-Takers Ltd., S.O. Work Group, Stop Prisoner Rape, and Robert Stroud (“The Birdman of Alcatraz”).
The exhibition is accompanied by numerous events, including screenings of John Frankenheimer’s Birdman of Alcatraz, Scared Straight! and Scared Straight! Twenty Years Later by Arnold Shapiro, and The Captivity Show, a series of films curated by Ben Russell. Additionally, the gallery is hosting Where Did They Come From? Where Are They Going?, an introductory workshop that provides facts, analysis, and testimony about sex offenders in the U.S.; a public discussion of artists working with prisoners with curator Marc Fischer and artists Mary Patten, LJ Reynolds, and Sarah Ross; and a gallery talk with Fischer and artist Lucky Pierre.
A staged reading of Jacob Juntunen’s epic ensemble play Under America, directed by Joanie Schulz, will also be performed in the gallery. The play takes place in Chicago and follows Sam, a lesbian journalist who wants out of the closet but fears her family’s disapproval, and Michael, a black 16-year old living in public housing who is arrested and wants out of his cell. Eventually, the lives of these two become intractably intertwined, bringing even their families and loved ones together.