Artist Jesse Krimes spent three years of his 70-month sentence in the Butner, North Carolina, federal prison making a huge allegorical mural titled Apokaluptein:16389067. It is composed of 39 table-sized panels made of prison sheets, hair gel, pictures from the New York Times, and colored pencil. By trial and error, Krimes found that hair gel was the best medium for transferring pictures from the newspapers to the sheets, although every image is reversed from the original.
“It’s a depiction of represented reality as it exists in its mediated form, within the fabric of the prison,” says Krimes. “It was my attempt to transfer [outside] reality into prison and then later became my escape when I sent a piece home with the hopes that it could be my voice on the outside in the event that anything bad ever happened and I never made it home.”
Krimes says this long term project kept him sane, focused and disciplined.
Each transfer took 30-minutes. Thousands make up the mural. Krimes only worked on one sheet at a time, each of them matching the size of the tabletop he worked on. A notch in the table marked the horizon line for the 13 panels making up the center horizontal. He shipped them home. Not until his release did he see them together.