addresses the experiences described by the Narrative Toolkit, specifically those of formerly incarcerated people as they re-enter society in the United States. The limitations imposed by law create an experience that makes re-entry difficult, often leading to re-incarceration.
The set is is designed to communicate these difficulties to the public, in an attempt to curb the stigma of incarceration, discuss the flaws within the institution of the criminal justice system, and facilitate community oriented solutions.
We designed a series of tableware in people’s homes to inspire them to consider the government imposed limitations of re-entering society after incarceration. In line with the challenges FIP encounter when attempting to re-enter society, some of these objects are intentionally difficult to use, pushing people to “give up” before they’ve started their meal. Other challenges are hidden and surprising.
As FIP are often expected to deal with the trials of re-entry without an established support structure, these objects are placed in the home for subjects to encounter and consider privately. They are to be used daily without reprieve. They are to be used with the prescribed limitations. If the subject is clever enough to work around it, they will be given a new set with additional challenges. We are curious - if an object is taken for granted, how do we feel when it no longer performs its function? How will subjects address limitations that affect their ability to eat and drink? If they can experience the frustration, isolation, and limitations that FIP go through as they try to adjust to life after incarceration, would the result be additional empathy?
If an object is taken for granted, how do we feel when it no longer performs its function? How will subjects address limitations that affect their ability to eat and drink? If they can experience the frustration, isolation, and limitations that FIP go through as they try to adjust to life after incarceration, would the result be additional empathy?
THE TABLEWARE SET
Rotating Breakfast Set: An unstable dining set. A cup with a rotating handle, bowls that wobble, spoons that swivel when scooping. This set represents the need for safety and stability when the ability to find safe and comfortable housing is lost.
Fat Breakfast Set: Rims that are too thick to sip, forks that are too fat to pierce. This set represents the inability to access a basic need through a designed system, as when food stamps and employment become unavailable through barriers of law.
Attached Breakfast Set: A dining set where each piece is attached to the rest, causing limited use of tools and an inability to change what has been preset. This set represents the experience of being unable to advocate for one’s self interests. Being stripped of the right to vote, formerly incarcerated people are unable to change the system that works against them.
Soft Breakfast Set: A set where the utensil handles are made of cloth. The bowl, and cup are also cloth and without structure. This set represents the difficulty accessing higher education. It is possible to eat with improvisation, however challenging. FIP are ineligible for financial assistance from the federal government, and therefore have great difficulty accessing higher education. This experience results in increased difficulty improving employment prospects and achieving higher learning.