Solitary Confinement

I have been gravitating towards this idea of time as a commodity, as outlined by Bauman in “The Culture of Waste”. I want to consider the prison system in terms of commodity production as well as “waste” pushed to the margins of  tangibility.  Firstly the prison systems operates essentially as a slave economy under the guise of social rehabilitation.  It is common knowledge that the prison system functions as an industry, providing labor and commodities at costs well below market value.  Solitary confinement has become normal practice in prisons across the United States to maintain this economy. This practice of confinement alienates the prisoner from human interaction and arguably from the sense of being human. In a piece aimed to raise awareness about political prisoners sentenced to solitary confinement, Rigo 23 created the facsimile of such a space in the New Museums stairwell.  A more elaborate description can be found here:  It seems that when a person is stripped of their potential to produce, they are stripped of the ability to waste time. Is solitary confinement a space where wasting of time is impossible, given that the intention of the space is to invisiblize and dehumanize the captive?



  cindypound wrote @

interesting idea, that the notion of wasting time is a value judgment linked to the notion of time as “productive possibility”. interesting that in addition to the solitary confinement and labor issues you call within the prison system, there is the notion of rehabilitation – educational, behavioral, spiritual – that enables the prisoner, once released, to become a “productive” member of society.

  99hooker wrote @

One interesting thing about prisons is there role in history as a place for producing resistence (for becoming profoundly productive) – Erasmus, Thomas More, Ho Chi Minh, George Jackson (Soledad Brother), Gramsci, to name but a very for whom “doing time” brought about tremendous transformation … there is an interesting book out which argues that the French prison system created a national unity from disperate tribes through shared suffering (Zinoman, Peter. The Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment in Vietnam 1862-1940. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001) I’m also interested in prison as a site for homoerotic fantasies of S&M. I am always amazed how it is okay and indeed encouraged to joke about male prison rape (which is used explicitly and institutionally with utter conscious cynicism by “authorities.” One of the worst cases to come to light more recently was the systemic use of rape as reward and punishment in TX juvie system a few years back. )Of course TX is one of the worst places … recalls to mind another recent story of guards who were staging fights with “retarded” prisioners and capturing the “fight club” stuff on their cell phones.


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