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Impossible Prison, Talks and Discussions

Impossible Prison workshop Ashley Hunt. Photo by David Sillitoe

Impossible Prison, Talks and Discussions

Ashley Hunt workshop

Events - Talks

Impossible Prison, Talks and Discussions

Video Archived Online

10 Nov 2008 - 08 Dec 2008

With contributions from David Macey, Jonathan Rée, Lisa Le Feuvre, Ken Starkey, Eyal Weizman, Erwin James, and Ashley Hunt.

A cross-disciplinary programme of lectures and debates with Ashley Hunt, Lisa LeFeuvre, David Macey, Jonathan Rée, Ken Starkey, Eyal Weizman and Erwin James:

Meaning, Truth and Prisons: The Legacy of Michel Foucault

David Macey in conversation with Jonathan Rée

David Macey, Foucault’s biographer, will discuss the astounding contribution of this very “uncomfortable thinker.” Although he died over two decades ago, his work continues to inform contemporary life and culture, whether that is our understanding of madness, prison as a model for many modern institutions, or the self-constructed individual who still relishes the audacity of this activist-philosopher today.

Jonathan Rée is Visiting Professor at Roehampton University and the Royal College of Art. Aiming to find new audiences for philosophical debate, he is the author of more than a dozen books and a journalist for many publications including the Times Literary Supplement and The Independent. He is also a frequent broadcaster.

David Macey is a writer and translator who lives and works in Leeds. His books include The Lives of Michel Foucault (1994) and Frantz Fanon: A Biography (2000). His many translations from French include Michel Foucault’s Society Must be Defended, 2003.

Venue: BioCity Lecture Theatre, Nottingham
Time: 6pm - 8pm


Michel Foucault and art after Minimalism

Lisa Le Feuvre

A glance, stare or gaze is a function of power,” states Lisa Le Feuvre. “Looking involves taking, giving and refusing permissions – a process predicated to control.” In this lecture she relates Foucault’s theories of surveillance to the concerns of art after Minimalism, revealed particularly in the work of Dan Graham, Vito Acconci and Bruce Nauman. Acconci’s attempted invisibility, Graham’s investigations of the politics of vision and architecture, and the conflict with regulation in Nauman’s work are all explored. Their work attempts to revoke the dominating authority that determines bodies in time, space and ultimately, what we see.

Lisa Le Feuvre is a curator, writer and lecturer based in London. She is Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Maritime Museum. She lectures on the Curatorial MA at Goldsmiths College and recent writing includes essays on Robert Morris and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Venue: BioCity Lecture Theatre, Nottingham
Date: Monday 17 November
Time: 6pm - 8pm

Stranger in a Strange Land: Michel Foucault in the Business School

Ken Starkey

Foucault is regularly cited in business management literature. At first sight, says Professor Ken Starkey, this might seem “strange”. However, his investigations included prisons, schools and hospitals, now seen by managers as potential business opportunities. However, the complicated workings of modern corporations shouldn’t be simply seen as replicating the all-controlling ‘panopticon’. In the current economic crisis we need to escape from our own intellectual prisons, drawing on Foucault’s thoughts to prise open possibilities.

Ken Starkey is professor of Management, Organisational Management and Organisational Learning at Nottingham University. He has published widely on management theory and co-edited Foucault, Management and Organisation Theory (1998) with Alan McKinlay.

Venue: BioCity Lecture Theatre, Nottingham
Date: Monday 24 November
Time: 6pm - 8pm

The Architecture of Occupation in Israel/Palestine

Eyal Weizman

Weizman and Alessi are currently researching a masterplan that exposes the hidden intention of Israeli planners after the ending of occupation and the settlers’ evacuation. Here architecture appears to collude with oppression, while ghettoising both Israelis and Palestinians. “The landscape has become the battlefield on which power and state control confront both subversive and direct resistance,” Weizman writes in the introduction to his acclaimed book A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture. Planning and the built environment have become blatant political tools, the speakers argue, dominating and determining different life courses as effectively as Foucault’s “biopower.”

Eyal Weizman is Centre Director of Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College, London. Projects based on his human rights research in Israel/Palestine have been shown in New York, Berlin, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Malmo, Tel Aviv and Ramallah. He has organised and lectured at conferences worldwide. He is an author and regular contributor to many journals and magazines. In 2006, he won the James Sterling Memorial Lecture Prize.

Alessandro Petti is an architect and researcher in urban studies at the University Institute of Architecture of Venice, Italy. He is a member of Multiplicity: agency for territorial investigations based in Milan and he is the curator with Sandi Hilal of the research project and exhibition Stateless Nation (2004).

Venue: BioCity Lecture Theatre, Nottingham
Date: Wednesday 3rd December
Time: 6pm - 8pm

Prison Today

Erwin James

Prisoners today are as marginalised and silent as they were when Foucault organised his Groupe d’Information sur les Prisons to give them a voice. Possibly the one exception has been Erwin James, who wrote a regular column for The Guardian while still serving his sentence. He is uniquely placed to understand the prison debate from both inside and out. Tonight he will question the causes of crime, the role of punishment within our society, and whether prison works.

Erwin James had a family lifestyle described as “brutal and rootless” by a prison psychologist. He had a limited formal education following the death of his mother. He had his first criminal conviction at 10, and was taken into care aged 11. After teenage years spent drifting and often living rough, he committed relatively petty, but occasionally violent crimes, until 1984, when he was jailed for life.

In prison James took a history degree with the Open University. His first article for a national newspaper, The Independent, appeared in 1994. He won first prize in the annual Koestler Awards for prose in 1995. In 1998 he began writing a regular column for The Guardian, the first of its kind in the history of British journalism. A Life Inside: A Prisoner’s Notebook was published in 2003, with a follow up, The Home Stretch, From Prison to Parole in 2005. Following his release James became a trustee of the Prison Reform Trust, and a Patron of the charity CREATE. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, and an Honorary Master of the Open University. He remains a Guardian columnist and contributor.

Venue: Civil Court, Galleries of Justice
Date: Monday 8 December
Time: 6pm - 8pm

The Corrections Documentary Project in Nottingham

Ashley Hunt

Rather than seeing art and activism as two separate spheres, Ashley Hunt regards them as complimentary. For the last eight years The Corrections Documentary Project has been investigating the growth of prisons and their relationship to both economic restructuring and the politics of race.

In Nottingham he will be working with a group to ask why we rely on prisons as a solution to social problems. With all we know about them, why do we trust them to “keep us safe”? The investigations undertaken in art – which include how the world appears to us, and how we make sense of it – will help to answer these questions.