New York University will host “Solitary: Wry Fancies and Stark Realities,” an all-day affair featuring playwright Tony Kushner, monologist Mike Daisey, author Joshua Foer (“Moonwalking with Einstein), and more, on Sat., Nov. 17, 10:45 a.m.-8:30 p.m. at NYU’s Cantor Film Center (36 East 8th Street/between University Place and Greene Street).
The event, co-sponsored by the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU, is free and open to the public. Call 212.998.2101 for more information. Admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. Subways: A, C, E, D, F (West 4th Street); 6 (Astor Place); N, R (8th Street).
Reporters wishing to attend should contact Stephanie Steiker at the New York Institute for the Humanities: 212.998.2101 or email@example.com.
The United States has become one of the most frequent and extensive practitioners of solitary confinement anywhere in the world and at any time in history. According to Solitary Watch, “far from a last resort used for the ‘worst of the worst,’ solitary confinement has become a control strategy of first resort in many prisons and jails.”
The event will include eminent individuals from a variety of disciplines (Kushner, Foer, film and sound editor Walter Murch, artist and photographer Catherine Chalmers, and others) imagining how they might endeavor to keep from going crazy were they ever to find themselves condemned to such a terrible fate.
These perspectives will be complemented by individuals who actually have spent time extended periods of time in solitary confinement: Breyten Breytenbach, the renowned Afrikaner poet and painter who spent seven years in South African prisons for his anti-apartheid activities; Tim Blunk, who spent seven years in solitary for exposing an FBI sting operation while serving thirteen years in prison for his role in the Resistance Conspiracy Case; Robert Hillary King, the only freed member of the Angola 3, a former Black Panther who spent 29 of his 31 years at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison in solitary confinement; and Shane Bauer, one of the three Americans hikers captured and held last year on the Iranian border, who spent four months in solitary before his eventual release.
The day will conclude with speakers discussing the philosophical, human rights, and legal implications of solitary confinement in the United States today: Lisa Guenther, a philosopher from Vanderbilt University and author of the forthcoming Social Death and its Afterlives: A Critical Phenomenolgy of Solitary Confinement; Juan Mendez, the human rights lawyer who himself suffered a harrowing stint in solitary during the Dirty Wars in his Argentine homeland; and Scarlet Kim, a co-author of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s recent report “Boxed In: The True Cost of Extreme Isolation in New York’s Prisons.”