Redaction: A Project by Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts
Throughout their careers, visual artist and filmmaker Titus Kaphar and memoirist, poet, and attorney Reginald Dwayne Betts have used their varied mediums to confront the abuses of the criminal justice system. The Redaction presents more than 30 new prints and a series of public programs that examine the issue of money bail, the condition of the state and federal court system by which those arrested, but unable to afford bail, remain incarcerated even though they have been neither tried nor convicted.
Drawing inspiration and source material from lawsuits filed by the Civil Rights Corps (CRC) on behalf of people incarcerated because of an inability to pay court fines and fees, The Redaction features poetry by Betts in combination with Kaphar’s etched portraits of incarcerated individuals. Betts utilizes the legal strategy of redaction to craft verse out of legal documents, capturing the complicated and pervasive effects of time spent incarcerated. These poems have been screenprinted by Kaphar onto handmade paper using the Redaction font, a new open-source typeface created for the project. Together, Betts’s poems and Kaphar’s printed portraits blend the voices of poet and artist with those of the plaintiffs and prosecutors, reclaiming these lost narratives and drawing attention to some of the many individuals whose lives have been impacted by mass incarceration.
Taking place at MoMA PS1 throughout the month of April, the exhibition marks the first-ever public installation of The Redaction, and seeks to create a platform for a multiplicity of conversations—about art, poetry, and practical legal questions—that can influence outcomes and reflect current conversations around the issue of criminal justice reform.
As part of The Redaction project, Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts collaborated with designers Jeremy Mickel and Forest Young to create a new open-source typeface. The Redaction font features throughout the artist's collaborative print portfolio and is also available to download as part of the project, in hopes that individuals looking to communicate within the U.S. legal system have recourse to communicate not just through their own distinct language and voice, but also through design as a form of protest.