Cover: Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, from Harvard University PressCover: Marking Time in HARDCOVER

Marking Time

Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

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Product Details


$39.95 • £31.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674919228

Publication Date: 04/28/2020


352 pages

95 color illus.


An urgently political text… Fleetwood’s training as an art historian is evident, as her analysis follows a narrative arc that moves across artistic mediums and within the physical architecture of prison itself… Marking Time, however, never becomes too wrapped up in its own theory to forget that the prison industrial complex is a system of people, many of whom are the most vulnerable among us… Moves fluidly between this art historical survey and a sharp attention to the social apparatuses that have enabled the very foundation of the prison state.—Jessica Lynne, The Nation

The beauty in these often painful images (like Muhammad al Ansi’s 2016 untitled painting of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who drowned as his family sought refuge across the Mediterranean) powerfully reclaims the visual idea of what it means to be imprisoned. Fleetwood seeks to revise the mainstream media narrative…by letting us see the diverse array of ‘studio photos, handmade greeting cards, drawings and other pieces of art made by incarcerated people’ that offer a story we on the outside have never really heard.The New York Times Book Review

A thoroughly researched and heartbreakingly personal look at prison art and the broader visual culture of incarceration… Woven throughout the book are striking illustrations of the work of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated artists… While prisoners have been largely excluded from public life, the art and images Fleetwood highlights function as material traces of the disappeared, who, through acts of creation, refuse to be rendered invisible.—Jackie Wang, Art in America

[Fleetwood] brings together an impressive array of paintings, sculptures, murals, and photos that speak to the impact of incarceration on American life… In amplifying the stories of those marked by incarceration, she makes visible the individuals and families the carceral state has tried so hard to disappear and silence.The Los Angeles Review of Books

Illuminates the creative process of artists working behind bars… Incorporating the work of artists within several different mediums—from painting and sculpture, to photography and bricolage—Marking Time explores how the creation of art in prison can disrupt institutionalized patterns of dehumanization… Makes visible the lives, experiences, and creativity of the incarcerated, a population which, despite being over two-million in size, remains largely either ignored or disparaged.—Patrick Conway, Arts Fuse

It’s so eloquently written and is the first book to explore art practices in proximity to the carceral state, representing more than a decade of research by Nicole and including the work of more than 70 artists.—Kate Fowle, Artnet News

Fleetwood leaves no stone unturned as she envelops the reader in an immersive and bristling study of what it takes to make art and survive in the age of mass incarceration. A groundbreaking, unique, and necessary work.—Cheryl Finley, Inaugural Distinguished Visiting Director, Atlanta University Center Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective

Nicole Fleetwood’s illuminating narrative centers and amplifies the brilliant aesthetic engagements of those most impacted by the carceral regime. Through stunningly original cultural analysis, visionary curation, and intellectual tenacity, Marking Time confronts the violence of captivity and propels readers toward a future without cages. This book is an extraordinary achievement.—Sarah Haley, author of No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity

Marking Time is a tremendous achievement that provides one of the most important discussions of prisons to date. Nicole Fleetwood illuminates the world of incarcerated artists and brings readers into their lives with powerful analysis and care. It is the kind of book that stays with you long after you finish, inspiring change in us all.—Elizabeth Hinton, author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

Monumental, expansive, and revelatory, Marking Time masterfully traces the connection between prisons and the art world. This book will define how the intersections of art, incarceration, and the fight for freedom are written about for decades to come.—Jesse Krimes, artist, curator, and cofounder of Right of Return USA

Maybe Nicole Fleetwood’s Marking Time offers that one thing missing from talk about incarceration in America: where words fail, there is art. Which is to say, Fleetwood breaks all of it down, by not flinching at the scars that come from knowing too many people who’ve done time or are doing time and recognizes that the challenge of seeing them, is a literal challenge—a challenge that is shared by both the unincarcerated and the incarcerated. Art, as Fleetwood explains, becomes a way of being seen, a way of making the shackles visible and the living visible, with the ultimate goal being a bigger measure of freedom. This is a book that reveals what’s been ignored.—Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of Bastards of the Reagan Era

Inspiring, powerful, and deeply moving, Nicole Fleetwood’s Marking Time captures the genius, the humanity, and the resilience of the brilliant artists trapped behind bars whom she profiles. Fleetwood takes us into the prison to experience the hope and pain and the artists’ experiences (and frustrations) associated with prison art. In her personal and erudite voice, Fleetwood helps transform the narrative of mass incarceration today, pushing us all to imagine and hope for a future world, in her words, without human caging. A terrific read, and the artwork is stunning!—Bernard Harcourt, author of The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens

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