Three Building

THREE BUILDING is an ongoing cross-disciplinary project using moves across and between methods including painting, assemblage, writing, and performance. The title comes from Lara Jefferson’s These are my Sisters: an insandectomy, written during her incarceration in The Oklahoma State Asylum, I think at some time during the 1930s, and self-published in 1947, in which Jefferson pays attention to the spaces that she and the other patients had to navigate, and in which she often refers to the threat of being moved to ‘Three Building’ the section of the asylum reserved for the most ‘insane’, and about which she can only speculate. THREE BUILDING thinks about the idea of ‘total institutions’, such as psychiatric hospitals, prisons, and other sites whose ‘encompassing or total character is symbolised by the barrier to social intercourse with the outside world and to departure’. How can patients and inmates find moments and spaces in these architectures where they can collectively and individually preserve self-hood / self-determination? My material thinking through making with painting and assemblage is deliberately abstract and unfixed, using abstraction as a possibility to think beyond the burden of representation, using materials to imaging subverted architectures. My writing for this project often seeks to imagine the voice of asylum buildings, and an example of this can be found in Blackbox Manifold, Issue 29: Winter 2022. Three Building proposes memory as a forward-looking act to critique total institutions through considerations of the erased spaces of patient autonomy—smoking rooms, corridors, toilets, corners, and so on—in relation to the institutional architectures of asylums and hospitals—particularly those of 19th Century asylums with interconnected or surveillance architectures—that were decommissioned during the early 2000s and converted into luxury housing.