If you’ve been in the CCT building on campus anytime between early February and now, you’ve probably noticed the makeshift tent installations of Mississauga-based artist Sheena Hoszko’s Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility. Her exhibit is being run by the Blackwood Gallery and is part of the Take Care circuit, a project that embellishes the idea of care and the crises that accompany it.
The installations in CCT are long white drapes propped up by rented pipes, creating two rooms about 10 square feet in width and length. They are meant to showcase the spaces for mental health treatment rooms that correctional facilities are bound to.
The imprisonment of Canada’s criminal offenders showcases how further trapped they are within the restrictions of their circumstances. The exhibit gives a perspective on the crisis of space within the already convoluted narrative of mental health issues.
This perhaps manifests the idea of space as an issue within treatment and healthcare facilities—the mental health of incarcerated offenders worsens, according to the research behind the exhibit. The question becomes clear: why are offenders not given the same mental health treatment as someone outside of prison? It is understandable that inmates are given poorer food choices and recreational facilities, however people on the inside are human beings as well—just with a criminal record and no access to outside health facilities.
The exhibit encourages us to look at Canadian correctional facilities in a new light. It is a dim one, and doesn’t shed much light on, or explain, where our tax dollars goes to. Perhaps that isn’t its intent. While we think that criminals are in prison to serve time, the exhibit points to the fact that mentally-ill people should not be granted fewer healthcare rights than people on the outside, even if they are convicts.
Being enclosed here has a different effect than just thinking about the ways we can help one another through emotionally torturous predicaments. Lots of art-goers who view this exhibit are likely to have not stepped into a correctional facility—let alone a treatment room within one. The art of highlighting mental health plights encloses us into a space that mentally-well people would likely feel anxious within.
It’s obvious that the exhibit fits right into the Take Care circuit. Here, care in itself is obstructed greatly and deeply. Criminal offenders do not have the choice as to where they receive treatment, but are given over to these rooms where care is not well thought-out. Care comes within a ten-square foot space, taking up room just because it can.
Correctional Service Canada Accommodation Guidelines: Mental Healthcare Facility ran until February 18 at the Blackwood Gallery.