Jesse krimes  :   marking time in americaTHe prison works

4 August 2016 – 24 September 2016

Burning in Water is pleased to present Marking Time in America: The Prison Works (2009-2013), Jesse Krimes' first solo gallery exhibition show in the US. Marking Time in America features two comprehensive bodies of work that Krimes completed during a six-year period of incarceration for a non-violent drug offense: Apokaluptein and Purgatory. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with JustLeadershipUSA, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to reducing the U.S. correctional population by empowering those most affected by incarceration.


Jesse Krimes was arrested in 2009 soon after his graduation from art school. During his path through the American justice and penal systems, he continuously created artwork, devising complex methods of working with limited materials. Krimes completed the Purgatory series over his first year of pre-sentencing incarceration, during which time he was held in solitary confinement in a maximum security ward and "locked-down" in his cell for 23 hours per day. With no access to art materials, he began to create small portraits on bars of prison-issued soap by delicately transferring images from newspaper and periodicals. He fashioned an instrument using the positive terminal of a disassembled AAA battery to cut individual frames for each portrait from stacks of used playing cards that were passed to him by other prisoners. These playing card frames (composed of over 6,000 individual hand-cut playing cards) functioned both as integral parts of the artwork and vessels for concealment. Individual elements of Purgatory were smuggled out of the facility and mailed to an art historian friend with the assistance of other inmates who worked in the mail room. Previously exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Purgatory is being publicly exhibited in its entirety for the first time in the U.S. 

Following his sentencing, Krimes served an additional five years in prison, during which time he created his sweeping work Apokaluptein: 16389067. Painstakingly transferring individual visual elements from newspapers, periodicals and art journals onto panels cut from stolen prison bed sheets, Krimes created a monumental work in small increments of time coordinated with his highly-regimented prison schedule. Each image transfer, which Krimes performed using primarily a spoon and hair gel, took over 30 minutes to perform. Individual panels required over a month to complete. 

Apokaluptein: 16389067 spanned over 40 feet when ultimately assembled following his release. On view in Marking Time in America is a slightly scaled-down version, which Krimes meticulously recreated using digital transfers, hand-drawing and painting. 

In addition to Purgatory and ApokalupteinMarking Time in America features selections from Krimes' Masterworks series of drawings and image transfers on prison bed sheets along with a new series of work focusing on Krimes' profound engagement with philosophical texts regarding freedom, punishment and social sytems of containment during his incarceration. 




Jesse Krimes (b. 1982, Lancaster, PA) lives and works in Philadelphia. His work Purgatory was exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris as part of the exhibition Le Bord des Mondes in 2015. Apokaluptein: 16389067 was shown at the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University. Other venues in which his artwork has been exhibited include the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery of Drexel University and Amnesty International's Art for Amnesty. Krimes' work was also recently featured in the Truth to Power exhibition coinciding with the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. In the spring of 2017, Krimes' work will be on view at the Lucille M. and Richard F.X. Spagnuolo Musem at Georgetown University and the Hampshire College Museum of Art.