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Artangel commissions works for Reading Prison by Wolfgang Tillmans, Ai Weiwei and Marlene Dumas


Morley von Sternberg: exterior of Reading Prison

The prison where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated will host a major Artangel show with newly commissioned works by Wolfgang Tillmans and Ai Weiwei. Reading Prison will open to the public for the first time to host a line-up of artists, performers and writers, who will respond to the work of its best-known inmate.

Specially commissioned artworks by Tillmans, Marlene Dumas, Nan Goldin, Robert Gober, Steve McQueen and Jean-Michel Pancin will be installed in the prison’s corridors and cells. Existing works by Doris Salcedo, Richard Hamilton and Felix Gonzalez-Torres will also feature as part of the exhibition.

Writers will compose letters from their own direct or imagined experience of a state-imposed separation from loved ones. Ai Weiwei, Tahmima Anam, Anne Carson, Joe Dunthorne and Danny Morrison, among others, will contribute letters, and visitors will be able to listen to and read them in the prison cells. BBC Radio 4 will broadcast five of these.

Actors, writers and performers such as Ralph Fiennes, Maxine Peake and Patti Smith will pay homage to Wilde by reading De Profundis in its entirety every Sunday in the Victorian prison’s chapel.

Inside — Artists and Writers in Reading Prison is open from 4 September — 30 October.


Morley von Sternberg: interior of Reading Prison


Portrait of Oscar Wilde, © National Portrait Gallery, London