Contemporary Practices Assistant Professor Maria Gaspar’s digital animation and radio broadcast titled Radioactive: Stories from Beyond the Wall will make its debut this weekend when it is projected against the north-facing wall of the Cook County Department of Corrections in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. The project has been the culmination of workshops with male prisoners led by Gaspar over the past year.
The project is an attempt by Gaspar to illuminate the voices of those incarcerated and allow for a channel of communication between the people behind the wall and those on the outside. “I grew up a few blocks away from the jail, and like the entire largely Latinx, working-class community in its vicinity, I saw it every day. I’ve had family incarcerated, and as a social-practice artist and educator, I’ve had my students go through juvenile detention or traumatic encounters with law enforcement,” said Gaspar in an interview with Artforum. This project is part of a larger, ongoing project called the 96 Acres Project organized at and around the Cook County Department of Corrections. Gaspar has used audio, installation, performance, and theater as part of her series of work related to the facility and with Radioactive sought to answer the question—“what would the jail say if it could speak?” One of Gaspar’s goals for the project is to make known the stories of the human beings in the system and remind them of their potential to inspire activism. The animation and broadcast will go up after sundown on September 15 and 16.