MEET ME IN THE DAY ROOM. THEY ARE PLAYING YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE.
CUT TO: INT. − DAY ROOM – EVENING – CONTINUOUS
The Day Room, a social space typically housed within institutional architectures like prisons and residential mental health centers, is often the only space within these sites sanctioned for recreational activity: playing games, reading, writing, watching films and T.V., or just speaking casually with your peers. Held at the center of these buildings, the Day Room appears to be a space of freedom, fostering the ability to make choices, to determine how your mind will be occupied, to decide where your body will exist and what it will do. However, always suspended around the perimeter of the Day Room is the authority of the institution itself, regulating time, granting permission, and taking it away. And as much as the Day Room is a place to freely look and think, it is also a place to be looked at and thought about.
Similar to the space of a movie theater I began to think of the Day Room as a kind of cinema, a place for looking, a location where stories unfold publicly through sharing and performance and privately through contemplation. Beginning with the written narrative of my own firsthand experiences of being institutionalized as a teenager, I constructed a Day Room, composed of found furniture, objects, and junk; abandoned windows, and doors. And inside this room, my stories collide with those I have collected from participants over the last year through social media and one on one conversations. Some of these stories deal directly with institutionalization while others recount memories of objects and places. Inside this set, these biographies collide with moving images borrowed from Chaplin’s Modern Times and The Wizard of Oz and an accumulation of photographic and video images that document critical moments embedded in our social memory: The 1992 L.A. Uprising (aka riots), the falling of the Twin Towers, the 2006 LAPD attacks on protesters in Mac Arthur Park, the last moments of Trayvon Martin’s life caught on surveillance video… and many more.
This collision of stories provides a space to choose: How you will engage with these objects, videos, texts, and images? Through a passive looking and listening or your own entrance into the narrative through voluntary performance? Here, the Day Room becomes an active cinema, a territory to contemplate how our remembering and forgetting impacts the construction of personal and social story; to consider how the physical and psychic architectures that house these narratives can shape their outcome. And then, this folly of building and tearing apart begs the question: how do we defy these outcomes? How do we liberate the Day Room?
Contributing artists, writers, performers:
Akira Watts, Adam Beat aka MC Prose, Art Carillo, Andrea Penagos, Andy Bennett, Christy Ramirez, Clare Fox, Colleen Hargaden, Elizabeth Freeman, Ezekiel Rahim Rettino Provost, Elyn Kazarian, Erick Huerta, Holli Teltoe, Iliana Carter Ramirez, John Varga, Julie Hey, Janis Sage, Julie Lovich, Jazz Hart, Jeanette Iskat, Joschua Beres, Jack Moll, Katie Grinnan, Kelly Doyle, Laura Luna, Maya Selene Yanez Santiago, Nati Carerra, Patrisse Cullors, Ricky Jones, Shane Rivera, Stephen Kugelberg, Susan Carillo Hall, Tamara Rettino (Additional contributors TBA)
And a special thank you to Julie Lovich, for collaboration on installation design, John Carlos de Luna for transport and installation, and Skira Martinez at CIELO Galleries for hosting space for this work.