Abstract: This paper aims to discuss the relationship between punishment and art. It seeks to set a theoretical and methodological framework that will help unpack the role that the arts – as means of self-expression, creative and therapeutic practices and as institutional and political exercises – play in the delivery and experience of, and in the survivability and resistance to punishment. The paper argues that considering the relationship between punishment and art critically requires us to acknowledge its many dimensions. To do so, it will discuss three different scenarios: art as something that can be borne out of punishment – as a somewhat positive, if unintentional, outcome of punitive lived experiences; art as complicit in the delivery of punishment and perpetuation of penal power; and art as emancipatory and resistive practice in relation to punitive settings and conditions. It will conclude by warning that art’s emancipatory potential in challenging punitive and hostile politics and its potential to contribute towards an abolitionist, anti-carceral agenda, are only feasible when art is comprehensively decoupled from its implication in the delivery and expansion of punishment.
This event is co-hosted with the Ruskin School of Art.