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A three-part public art project, created in partnership with The Fortune Society, Creative Time, artist Phil Collins, and over 100 collaborators aims to shine a new light on the prison industrial complex through house music and nightlife.
The multidisciplinary project, Bring Down The Walls, consists of a communal space that functions as a school by day and a dance club by night, as well as a benefit compilation of classic house tracks re-recorded by formerly incarcerated vocalists and electronic musicians.
Bring Down The Walls is a free and open physical resource for the public. Each Saturday in May, beginning May 5 at the Firehouse, Engine Company 31 — a historic, decommissioned fire station in Lower Manhattan — Bring Down The Walls hopes to lay focus on the dichotomy between the sense of freedom, unity, and joy ingrained in house music, and the punitive control and violence that so many face outside its walls. Bring Down The Walls aims to serve as a reckoning — an acknowledgment of the history of nightlife as a fleeting haven, but also the exploration of how it can be so much more.
In Collins own words:
“All social interactions are inherently political. Historically, house culture has often been a mode of resistance, opening up new understandings of community and solidarity. Its radical proposition of simply being together offers another way of engaging the conversation around the prison industrial complex, which sentences discriminately and disproportionately, but impacts us all. Even after their release, people remain confined and punished by invisible barriers — physical, emotional, economic. The very real human cost of systemic regressive policies comes sharply into focus through sharing time and space, and in direct exchange with one another.”
As such, Collins also put together the Bring Down The Walls compilation as a means of outrightly championing the resistance ethos, and action, that house music can so embody.
Proceeds received from the benefit complication will go towards the New York Chapter of Critical Resistance, which is a grassroots prison abolition organization. The compilation features covers of classic house tracks from musicians like Honey Dijon, Larry Heard, and more, as well as the vocals from formerly incarcerated individuals.
Bring Down The Walls can be purchased or donated to here.
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