new-york

Judith Schaechter, The Battle of Carnival and Lent, 2011–12, stained glass, 56 x 56 x 2".

Judith Schaechter

Claire Oliver

Judith Schaechter, The Battle of Carnival and Lent, 2011–12, stained glass, 56 x 56 x 2".

Judith Schaechter’s The Battle of Carnival and Lent, 2011–12, was first installed at the historical Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia together with sixteen related works of stained glass. These glass pieces remained colorful and exciting here, yet a significant component of the works’ original meaning—a commentary on the nature of imprisonment in the early modern era—was lamentably lost in the gallery context.

I’ve visited the Eastern State Penitentiary several times; it’s a rather gloomy Gothic fortress, intimidating from the outside, oppressive on the inside. In its heyday—it was built in 1829 and closed in 1971, and is now a national historic landmark—the jail was where major federal criminals (among them Al Capone and Willie Sutton) were incarcerated in solitary confinement. The building’s design was partly based on Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon and

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