The goal is to make a fresh case for the jail’s significance, and potentially set a new ball in motion for its preservation.
Up until now, the jail’s social history has been largely lacking from the conversation about not only what to do with the site, but also from the preservation conversation, as well as its place in the social context of the City of Newark.
I am proposing a temporary public exhibition, which will invite the community into the space. Through a curatorial focus on the daily lives of the jail’s inhabitants, including both the prisoners and the guards who worked there, and their distinct movement within the jail, my hope is to reveal the physical space and its untold stories in a way that challenges the themes of prevailing conversations about what to do with this place. Ultimately, the goal is to make a fresh case for the jail’s significance, and potentially set a new ball in motion for its preservation.
The movement of the prisoners back and forth, back and forth in the plan of their individual cells is a movement of choice. As was stressed in our conversations with those who spent time in jail, the most important aspect of life behind bars was survival by movement. The movement up and down, as well as back and forth, of the guards is a movement of obligation, and highlights these individuals’ jobs as the observers of the space, needing to keep an equal eye on all of the cells. It is these two differing spatial logics that drive the rest of the exhibition design.