Jed Payten Visual Arts Gallery

Visual Arts Major Work Gallery by Jed Payten.

The Place Beneath Silence aims to revitalise and rename those institutionally bound within the prison system.

Over the months of producing and investigating this project, I was invited into the untold privacy of the truths of these “criminals”. Slowly the men were being stripped of their systematic branding, shattering such a preconceived illusion of the “hardened criminal”. It was my goal to shed an empathetic light on these men’s lives, placing them on trial once more, offering an authentic opportunity to reconstruct their social and moral worth.

The extent of their imprisonment lasted long after their release and began long before. Through the primitive medium of black charcoal, film photography and oil paintings, I was able to liberate both the men, and the ideologies which bound them to such a deafening silence. My body of work remained simple, but urgent in depicting their silent struggles. It is not complicated, and neither is my narrative. It is raw, it is legitimate and it must be articulated, expressed and reconstructed emotively, sensationally and subjectively.

Emotionally uprooting the childhood sores which shaped them, uncovered a real cycle of trauma and oppression which they, disillusioned and disheveled, were forced to build a life off of. While my overarching process aimed to humanise these men, it was not a role which I would take responsibility for- it was merely my desire to construct a vessel at which the fundamental humanness of their struggle can be understood without the constraints or false definitions of an unapologetically dehumanised system.