A Body in an Unusual Place
Twelve years ago my brother and his friend were imprisoned under the laws of California for committing a crime. Both were accused for sexually assaulting a young woman who they had just met and was going with them from party to party. But in addition they were also charged by the prosecutor for a presumed kidnapping because she was a minor. So, without a private representation, they were both out of luck. They were given few years for the assault but indefinite life sentences for the kidnapping. So, this was the tragic story of my brother.
Out of the two, my brother for being the person who was driving was severely punished to 15 years to life and his friend’s sentence was even worse. He was sentenced to 30 years to life under a bad deal he took with the Prosecutors Attorney. A few months later from San Quintin State Prison, his friend, his only witness, sent a letter to my brother apologizing for being the instigator of their action. After this letter, his friend killed himself.
From this tragic event all family members were devastated. All sides were in misery, his friend was gone, the young woman had to undergo therapy and my mother and I have to bear witness my dearest brother’s incarceration. Since in prison, he has contracted hepatitis C and gone through various physiological traumas from the isolation of the imprisonment. Prisons are over crowed, unsanitary, abusive, and there are limited rehabilitation programs for level 4 security inmates. Like many other people they are left to die alive, and in the process like my family, tormented by his reality. Some might think that he deserves the endless torture; others might feel differently, but what the public and the government doesn’t realized is that offenders are also humans too. Like my brother, we recognize that it was a wrong doing but also the sentence was unfair. Unfortunately the judicial system is racist and unfair to offender of color and the poor. In this regard, my performance is dealing with this sense of shame, lost and sorrow.
View The Inmate in a larger map
On, Saturday February 17, 2007 from 2-4:30pm in San Francisco. I walked from home in the Mission District to the Financial District (downtown of San Francisco) [see map]. Normally, Saturdays, local, national and international tourists visit the downtown. It is a center of commercial, consumer indulgence. It is a spectacle of our urban condition. So, I had a simple score of body movements where I would spontaneously intervene different places. My main objective was to respond to the environment as I felt it most appropriate. Also, I had two photographers that followed me from the moment I left home until we came back. So, as an experimental piece, I decided to walk slowly and perform few significant body positions that often affects me emotionally when I see people restrain by police officers in the public, as well as positions that I have seeing inside the prisons of California when I have visited my brother. In some general ways the positions are the emotional trauma that I have to endure for more than 12 years after my brother was imprisoned. It is a language, which depicts the imprisonment of humans by humans. Therefore, I walk slowly, stop without direction, repeatedly kneel down, and lye down on the ground depriving my body of physical freedom. Thus, “The Inmate” is an “unusual body” in a place of “unusual normality”. It is a personal and societal truth about the historicity of the judicial system of the United States.