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Jesse Krimes, “Marking Time in America: The Prison Works (2009–​​2013)”

  • Art, Contemporary art
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

It’s hard not to feel that an artist trumpeting the fact that his work was made in prison might be exploiting his own misadventures, but Jesse Krimes (the name is too perfect) seems to have had no misgivings about doing just that. The work in this small but grandiosely titled (“Marking Time in America”) exhibition was made while he served six years for “a nonviolent drug offense.” While the project may have its issues, there’s no denying the extraordinary dedication and resourcefulness required to produce it.

On display are two major bodies of work, “Purgatory” and Apokaluptein: 16389067, along with some newer, less affecting material. The first series, created while Krimes was in solitary confinement, is a set of several hundred ghostlike portraits made by transferring images from magazines onto slivers of prison-issue soap, secreted inside packs of playing cards. The second is an ethereal multipanel landscape, rendered by a similar technique onto cut-up prison bedding—shown here in a smaller, reworked version.

Of the two, “Purgatory” is the more memorable. But both are highly individual responses to an extreme situation—one in which an increasing number of Americans find themselves.

Written by
Michael Wilson


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