Crawford, On The Hill, By The Sea
Mt Crawford Prison (Wellington Prison) operated between 1927 and 2012. Crawford, On The Hill, By The Sea [CHS] preserves traces of living human memory concerning lived experiences at Mt Crawford, and weaves them together with accounts of the prison’s origins and significant aspects of its history, including four hangings between 1931-1935. The thesis and its creative component form a Bakhtinian dialogic of language, music and video, where each text “lives only by coming into contact with another text”, enabling “a light [to] flash, illuminating both the posterior and the anterior, joining a given text to a dialogue” (Erdinast-Vulcan).
CHS intentionally positions this dialogue to oppose the silencing of carceral voices, where “social undesirables are isolated inside a penal system where the rest of the society can talk about, but never with, them.” (Thiesmeyer). As a counterforce to this silencing, CHS creates sound and music drawn from and inspired by contemporary interviews and historical materials, offering a consequent opportunity for active societal listening, where “we empower one another by hearing the other to speech. We empower the disinherited, the outsider.” (Lipari) CHS contributes to wider discussion in New Zealand and internationally about criminal justice reform, and offers a range of perspectives to inform conversation about the future of the abandoned prison and the whenua upon which it was built — a site which has been known by Māori for 7-800 years as Matai Moana: “gaze at the sea”.