i can’t imagine Alcatraz without Ai Weiwei, his work is a beautiful reminder of what prisons really are.
the cells that inmates lived in were incredibly small, and the island itself, not the most hospitable. it was cold, damp, windy, and unless given permission (or in the middle of a riot), it was very very quiet. the conditions and sensory depravation point to torture. whether or not these people deserve this existence is another story, there were definitely very guilty men that were imprisoned here. but i’m sure there were at least a couple of innocents within the ranks, and perhaps men who committed crimes that may not fit this kind of punishment.
who knows, its a huge conversation! and Ai Weiwei does an excellent job of facilitating it. he looks at Alcatraz and beyond, he asks us all what these prisons are really doing, and who should be locked up inside of them. and he challenges you to reconsider what freedoms you really have.