Over 15 percent of inmates in the U.S. prison system report having been homeless at some point in the year before their incarceration. This statistic from a 2008 Yale study is cited by Cycles of Street to Prison / Prison to Street, an original collaboration between the LIDA Project and Source Theatre Company that's a companion to the new exhibit at RedLine, Not Exactly: Between Home and Where I Find Myself. "In comparison with other inmates," the study states, "those who had been homeless were more likely to be currently incarcerated for a property crime, but they were also more likely to have past criminal justice system involvement for both nonviolent and violent offenses, to have mental health and substance abuse problems, to be less educated, and to be unemployed."
See also: - The LIDA Project takes on barriers of class and language in O'Neill's The Hairy Ape - Everything adds up as the LIDA Project embarks on its 18th season - RedLine's Artist's Studio series celebrates resident artists
Men in prison garb march through RedLine's Project Space on Not Exactly's opening night.
"RedLine's Not Exactly exhibition engages the private, public, and nonprofit sectors in a thoughtful and artistic dialogue into what it means to be homeless," says Governor John Hickenlooper of the exhibit, which opened last weekend but will include many ancillary projects.
Cycles of Street to Prison / Prison to Street, for example, tackles the link between homelessness, crime and imprisonment. As with other LIDA productions, the piece merges performance with installation and video art, centering on a grouping of prison beds arranged in RedLine's Project Space.
"The exhibition is about more than 'the homeless' as a group of people," says curator Chad Kautzer. "Indeed, it can be seen as a critique of thinking about homelessness in this way. It's about the complexities of the notion of 'home' and how our social relations, institutions, and laws marginalize or privilege certain groups and individuals." Along with Lisa Calderon of the Community Re-entry Project, Kautzer and co-curator Robin Gallite visited the Denver County Jail to talk with inmates about their ideas of home before bringing the idea for a performance piece to LIDA'S Brian Freeland and the Source's Hugo Sayles.
"Robin and I also visited a class taught by William Cash at the Community Re-entry Project to talk to recently released folks about their experiences," Kautzer continues. "Although we knew about the difficulties of finding employment and housing after release, the personal stories we heard were incredibly impactful. In light of the 'urban camping ban' passed last year by City Council and these stories, we approached Brian and Hugo with the idea of a performance that would capture this nexus of issues and struggles. Happily, they agreed to take up the task and themselves would visit Denver County Jail for more research."
The results of all that research will debut at 8 p.m. Thursday at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street. Cycles of Street to Prison / Prison to Street will have six performances -- June 13-15 and 27-29 -- each will begin at 8 p.m. All RedLine exhibitions are free and open to the public.
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