Mark Storor Reveals Plight Of Gay Prisoners

Artangel commission ‘A Tender Subject’ by Mark Storor opens tonight

‘A Tender Subject’ is a performance installation by award-winning British artist Mark Storor and will be taking place at a secret London location in until 31 March. It represents the culmination of three years’ work, and explores the experiences of gay prisoners in the harsh context of the UK prison system, asking; ‘in a hostile environment, where everyone has a role to play, how do you maintain a sense of yourself?’ 

Commissioned by Artangel, ‘A Tender Subject’ began as a series of collaborative workshops with gay male prisoners, prison officers and prison staff across the UK in 2008. By forming close ties with key individuals and support networks within the prison system, and introducing safe places within the prisons, the workshops became a space where the men could express themselves and reflect on what it means to be gay and in prison.

Overcoming the initial denial of the existence of gay men in prison, he began to get a sense of the extreme difficulties created by fear, homophobia and violence. Through his workshops, Storor gave men, whose lives are not seen to be their own, the opportunity to imagine quiet and tender moments: and what he discovered was an extremely delicate relationship between fragility and brutality, tenderness and violence.

The final work – the exact contents of which is yet to unveiled – tells the stories from these workshops, of Storor’s experiences during the project, and the prisoners’ and prison officers’ own moments of tenderness. ‘A Tender Subject’ audiences will be transported at twilight from a central London meeting point to a secret site in the City of London. They will be escorted by prison officers to encounter aspects of live art, installation and performance. The piece will feature some of the project’s long term collaborators and run for 14 nights only.

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