Cornford and Cross
Get Carter 1997

Prison door and security guard in gallery
Proposal for Laing Art Gallery
Newcastle, England

We proposed to install a fully operational prison door into the gallery entrance. All other doors and windows into the gallery space were to be closed and sealed.

The prison door was to be controlled by a private security guard, instructed to allow only one person in at a time. Entering the enclosed space would have constituted an act of voluntary submission, as the guard would have locked the door for an undisclosed period. While inside, the viewing subject would have become an object of enquiry to the gallery-going public.

Ascetics enter confinement to attain a higher state of consciousness, while prisoners of conscience do so as an act of defiance. In our proposed installation, the experience of quiet contemplation within the ‘white cube’ of a contemporary art gallery would be mixed with the anxiety and frustration of solitary confinement in a prison cell.

In a society’s manufacture of consent and control of dissent, a spectrum of approaches and institutions might be identified, ranging from those based on cooption through cultural consumption, to coercion through law enforcement. Our proposed installation aimed to connect the two.

Get Carter is the title of a 1971 film directed by Mike Hodges, with Michael Caine as a London gangster who travels to Newcastle to avenge his brother’s killing.

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