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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Art

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Inside – Artists and Writers in Reading Prison

Until 30th October, Reading Prison pb/>This unique art event is extraordinary on so many levels. First of all, it’s set in Reading Prison, a Victorian gaol that was a working prison until 2013 and has never before been open to the public. If that isn’t fascinating enough, it’s here that Oscar Wilde was incarcerated, enduring a harsh penal regime designed to eliminate any contact between prisoners, but using the paper given to him by the governor to write De Profundis, his great work of contemplation. Now artists, performers and writers have responded to the unique history of the prison with work that’s displayed in the corridors and cells. Highlights include Nan Goldin’s photo-collage The Boy and Steve McQueen’s installation The Winter. There’s also an incredibly-moving letter by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to his young son, explaining the circumstances of his own imprisonment, and arresting portraits of Wilde, his lover Bosie, and French writer and fellow convicted homosexual Jean Genet, by painter Marlene Dumas. Ultimately, though, what leaves the most lasting impression is Wilde’s own cell, which has been left empty of artwork as a place of quiet reflection. Visit it while you can – but expect to leave feeling profoundly moved.

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