ASU ART MUSEUM PRESENTS
Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration

The exhibition uses art and history as lenses to
interpret contemporary phenomena and understand
how the legacies of the past persist to this day.

Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration considers the foundational roots of confinement from an art historical perspective to better understand the fact that today’s mass incarceration crisis is centuries in the making. The exhibition opens this Friday, September 10 at ASU Art Museum.

Undoing Time explores how images throughout time contribute to entrenched cultural beliefs associated with today’s carceral system. The exhibition includes 12 never-before-seen, commissioned artworks from contemporary artists whose work combines history, research and storytelling in material form. Miki Garcia, director of the ASU Art Museum, says, “This exhibition was inspired by filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s strategy in her documentary 13th, which uses history as a lens to understand present-day phenomena and as a way to trace how legacies of the past persist to this day.” 

The exhibition is organized by Miki Garcia, director; Heather Sealy Lineberry, curator emeritus; Matthew Villar Miranda, ASU-LACMA Fellow; and Julio César Morales, senior curator, and features artists, Carolina Aranibar-Fernández, Juan Brenner, Raven Chacon, Sandra de la Loza, Ashley Hunt, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Michael Rohd, Paul Rucker, Xaviera Simmons, Stephanie Syjuco, Vincent Valdez and Mario Ybarra Jr. The artists in the exhibition invest in community collaboration, work in an expansive range of media and rethink traditional archival research to consider how artistic expression reveals the underlying logics of criminality and correction. 

For the first time in ASU Art Museum’s history, an exhibition will engage all galleries, dedicating the entire museum to this one large-scale exhibition and its public programming.

THE CHALLENGE

The exhibition uses art and history as lenses to interpret contemporary phenomena and understand how the legacies of the past persist to this day. The Art for Justice Research Grant allowed curators, artists, scholars and community members to co-create an exhibition proposal that seeks to trace, unpack, and expose entrenched beliefs around the justice system that make mass incarceration what it is today.

THE APPROACH

Undoing Time: Art and the Histories of Incarceration seeks to consider the foundational roots of confinement from philosophical, sociological, theological, and art historical perspectives to better understand the fact that today’s mass incarceration crisis was centuries in the making. From the Code of Hammurabi, Judeo/Christian ideas of sin, Confucian labor philosophies, to European Enlightenment thinking and the legacies of U.S. slavery and colonialism, the artists in this exhibition will explore the inheritances of our notions of sin, punishment, mercy, justice, poverty, and race.

FINDINGS & IMPACT

The exhibition makes space to analyze historical images of incarceration in direct conversation with newly commissioned works of art. We will unpack and reveal entrenched cultural belief systems associated with the criminal justice system to:

• Mine diverse histories that consider the foundational roots of incarceration from philosophical, sociological, theological, and historical perspectives to offer deeper understanding of how today’s conditions are centuries in the making;

• Offer alternative histories, expose those that haven’t been seen, give voices to those unheard;

• Deploy artists and communities to build through lines and tell the stories that haven’t been told.

THE GOALS OF THE EXHIBITION

• Contribute excellent artworks to the field of contemporary art and art history;

• Surface invisible or untold histories and narratives;

• Unpack and critique moral, ethical and philosophical reasons leading to mass incarceration;

• Remove stigmas and create broader, systemic view of the issue;

• Allow us to imagine new possibilities for the future.

For more information, CLICK HERE