If you didn’t realize the second floor of the City County Building housed an active youth detention center, you’re not alone. In a new art installation, Madison-based art duo Simone Doing and Max Puchalsky (professionally known as Simone and Max) are hoping to call attention to the fact that nearly 500 young people, some as young as 10 years old, pass through the space each year.
Dayroom I is a room-sized re-creation of Amber Sowards’ Captured, a series of photographs depicting life inside the center that were first exhibited in late 2015 at Madison’s Arts + Literature Laboratory. The installation — which opened at Paoli’s Artisan Gallery on Feb. 24 — is, according to the artists, “an immersive reimagining” of Soward’s photos. Doing and Puchalsky say they were awakened to racial injustices in Dane County after reading the 2012 “Race to Equity” report from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. They wanted to create art that illustrated the realities of the criminal justice system. By placing certain visual elements from the photo series (an exercise ball and wall patterning, for example) into the installation, Simone and Max aim to re-create the experience of captivity for their viewers.