In 2008, the New Museum presented a conversation with Robert King Wilkerson, a member of the Black Panther Party who spent thirty-two years in Angola Prison, twenty-nine of them in solitary confinement. The presentation was conceived by Mark Beasley, Curator at Creative Time, and Rigo 23, a San Francisco-based artist and activist and King’s longtime collaborator. The program began with a presentation of a video documentary by Rigo 23 about King and the Angola 3: Robert King Wilkerson, Albert Woodfox, and Herman Wallace, all of whom arrived at Angola Prison as young men under various circumstances in the late 1960s.
The screening was followed by a discussion between King, Rigo 23, and Beasley on the use of speech and the voice under the pressure of complete isolation. To this day, Woodfox and Wallace’s terms in solitary isolation (or closed-cell restriction) remain the longest in the United States history.
The event was part of Creative Time’s “Hey Hey Glossolalia: Exhibiting the Voice,” a series of free events presented throughout the month of May in 2008 that explored the use of the voice in contemporary art.