Survival technologies

Interesting piece examining the high investment that prisoners in a Mexico City jail put into their low tech.

One day they came up to me and said “OK Macotela. Look. If art is, as you say it is, the modification of daily life, or the modification of objects and acts to give them new meanings, then we have a question for you: don’t you think that survival in here can be art too? Because here we take normal objects and give them new meaning,” he told me. And he was right. In jail the handle of a bucket stops being the handle of a bucket and becomes a weapon, which becomes power. A brick plus a few loose wires become an electric stove, a piece of a windowsill gets turned into a knife. All of these objects are obviously forbidden, so they become ingenious and resignify things. And basically they proposed that these survival technologies become their art.

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