Making Art When ‘Lockdown’ Means Prison

"Carceral Aesthetics": Nicole R. Fleetwood in conversation with Rachel Kushner

Recognized as “best in show” and featured among “the most important art moments in 2020


A powerful document of the inner lives and creative visions of men and women rendered invisible by America’s prison system.


UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts will host Marking Time, exploring the work of imprisoned artists and the centrality of incarceration to contemporary art and culture, from Sept. 17-Dec. 11


Featuring art made by people in prisons and work by more than 35 nonincarcerated artists concerned with state repression, erasure, and imprisonment.

Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration investigates the impact of the carceral state on American life through the lens of art and visual culture. The multi-platform project grows out of a decade of research by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, curator and James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication in the Steinhardt School at New York University. Marking Time encompasses a highly praised book featuring close to 70 artists, a major survey exhibition at MoMA PS1, and ongoing public programs and collaborations highlighting artists working to end mass incarceration and issues impacting imprisoned people, their loved ones and communities.

Marking Time grows out of groundbreaking research on contemporary culture, art, and the carceral state including interviews with currently and formerly incarcerated artists. Each initiative of this ongoing project foregrounds the creativity, activism, coalition building, and visions of freedom of directly impacted people. Working with meager supplies and in the harshest conditions, imprisoned artists find ways to resist the brutality and isolation that prisons engender. Their bold works reveal new possibilities in American art and help to foster a society beyond imprisonment.

Marking Time Book Launch, hosted by MoMA PS1 and Harvard University Press, and featuring Dr. Fleetwood in conversation with professor and poet Dr. Fred Moten, artist and activist Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, and artist and curator Jesse Krimes