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Sam Durant addressed the quagmire of criminal justice by placing a 40 x 40 foot maze made of chain link fencing in Thomas Paine Plaza, across the street from Philadelphia's City Hall. The public was invited to interact with the maze by hanging personal items on the structure, using it as a platform to address issues surrounding mass incarceration. The structure was initially transparent, and through public interaction with the art, became opaque. The maze functions as a double metaphor, symbolizing not only the struggle of criminals caught in the Department of Corrections but for how, as a society, we are all navigating the labyrinth of mass incarceration.
Sam Durant is a multimedia artist whose works engage a variety of social, political, and cultural issues. Often referencing American history, his work explores the varying relationships between culture and politics, engaging subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, southern rock music, and modernism. He has had solo museum exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany; S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium; and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand. Durant shows with several galleries, including Blum and Poe, Los Angeles; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York City; Praz-Delavallade, Paris; and Sadie Coles Gallery, London. His work can be found in many public collections, such as the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Tate Modern, London; Project Row Houses, Houston; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Durant teaches art at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.
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Labyrinth © 2015, Sam Durant. Municipal Services Building, Thomas Paine Plaza, 1401 JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA. Photos by Steve Weinik.
Sam Durant at City Hall. Photo by Steve Weinik.