Patti Smith and Ai Weiwei to collaborate on Reading jail art project

Patti Smith

The pair will join thirty artists and actors, including Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Wolfgang Tillmans, to reflect on Oscar Wilde’s incarceration for homosexuality

Patti Smith and Ai Weiwei will be part of a thirty-strong showcase of artists and actors gathering at Reading prison to commemorate the incarceration of the jail’s most famous detainee – Oscar Wilde. The Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet was jailed for the crime of “homosexuality” from 1895-97.

As The Guardian explains, the two-month project will feature work from a diverse rage of mediums. Perhaps the most striking sights in store will be the readings of Wilde’s De Profundis – a 50,000 word, or 100 page letter from Wilde to his former lover ‘Bosie’ that will take four-and-a-half hours to read. A veritable plethora of reciters have signed up, including the aforementioned Smith, Maxine Peake, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and more.

Elsewhere, new works specifically commissioned for the project will be displayed from artists including Wolfgang Tillmans, Robert Gober and Jean-Michel Pancin. Steve McQueen will also share a new installation from inside the cells.

Inside – Artists and Writers in Reading Prison will run from 4 September – 30 October.