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DIGEST video | DIGEST photos | DIGEST text | DIGEST poems
DIGEST is a collaboration by sculptor Mia Pearlman, jazz pianist and composer Albert Marquès, and Keith LaMar, a writer, poet, and activist who has spent almost 30 years in solitary confinement on death row in Ohio for a crime he did not commit.
This interactive, monumental sculpture grows out of Keith’s metaphor for the prison industrial complex as a digestive system designed to consume and break people down. In fact, DIGEST is larger than the cell where Keith has been trapped for three decades.
The sculpture evokes a brick building crushing its contents and itself in the process. Faceted with metal wire mesh, zip tie handcuffs, prison blankets, and prison uniforms from the Ohio State Penitentiary, DIGEST acts as a musical instrument played by the motion of viewers’ bodies: as visitors move around the work, they trigger videos of Keith performing original poetry about his personal evolution over three decades in solitary confinement and audio of Albert’s piano composition in 5 separate tracks.
This exhibition also contains three videos from the album FREEDOM FIRST, the first album in history by an artist on death row..
Keith and Albert created the FREEDOM FIRST concert series in 2020, in which Keith performs live with Albert and a rotating group of international musicians to packed crowds around the world, from Joe’s Pub and the Jazz Gallery in New York, to the Iridia Festival in Barcelona, the 8th World Congress Against Death Penalty in Berlin (where they received an award), Madrid, and Santiago (Chile). The project and album have been featured in The New York Times, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, and major TV, newspaper and radio outlets in Spain and France.
DIGEST was born from a deep and personal friendship. Together with activists from the Justice For Keith LaMar organization, we continue to help create opportunities for Keith to tell his own story through art, music, film, books, podcasts, press, and more.
On November 16, 2023, the State of Ohio plans to execute Keith LaMar despite no physical evidence linking him to a crime. He continues to fight for a new trial to defend his innocence in court. Whatever happens to Keith, DIGEST will continue to create awareness of his case and the plight of so many trapped in his situation.
To learn more about Keith and get involved: http://keithlamar.org