BRIAN MAGUIRE: THE BAYVIEW PROJECT

BRIAN MAGUIRE: THE BAYVIEW PROJECT

THE BAYVIEW PROJECT
BRIAN MAGUIRE
CURATED BY FERGUS MCCAFFREY
NOVEMBER 9 – JANUARY 4, 2002

WHITE BOX is pleased to announce an exhibition and billboard art project Brian Maguire: The Bayview Project. Organized by the curator Fergus McCaffrey, The Bayview Project is a collaboration between the Irish artist Brian Maguire and thirteen women prisoners over a seventeen-month period at the Bayview Correctional Facility in the Chelsea district of New York City.

The Bayview Project is comprised of: an exhibition of Maguire s portraits of the thirteen women and twenty works by the inmates at WHITE BOX; a 20 x 60 foot billboard located at 20th Street & 10th Avenue; and a seminar Penal Policy: New York State. The exhibition and billboard will be on view from November 9th December 20th, with a reception for the artist at WHITE BOX on November 9th from 6 8 PM. The seminar will take place at WHITE BOX on December 13th at 7.00 PM.

Brian Maguire s art practice is expansive and related to human interaction. Inside Bayview Maguire encouraged and assisted the prisoners in making their own work during workshops. With the consent of the prisoners, he also painted their portraits during concentrated periods of time. These prison portraits represent a form of social alchemy, where the traditional portrait a symbol of social status and achievement is subverted and used to assert the value of the incarcerated. Through this affirmation of worth the individual is enabled to break the bonds of institutionalization.

During the course of the projects workshops the young and middle aged women allowed the self, the other, close relationships, social environments, related values, and possessions to become the focus for a series of intense exchanges, through the medium of paint.

Over the last 15 years, Maguire has undertaken a series of projects in Europe and South America. Representing Ireland at the 1998 Sao Paolo Biennial, Maguire presented work arising from workshops in the notorious Carandoru State Prison. In Ireland over a twelve-year period he has developed a cross-disciplinary arts initiative in maximum-security prisons, which are linked to the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. This had lead to released prisoners completing degree courses in fine art. Throughout Maguire s objective is not the sensationalization of crime, but rather the opposite. Maguire s seeks to reveal the very ordinariness and humanity of the prisoners and to tell their stories.

Following controversy in March 2002, New York State raised doubts over the prisoners participation in the exhibition. From the beginning The Bayview Project was conceived as an exhibition of the portraits and the workshop paintings at WHITE BOX. However, intervention by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of WHITE BOX clarified the situation, making it possible for the exhibition to take place as planned.