Pink, a color that fills some of the most innocuous, sentimental and saccharine sectors of our visual culture, is a potent mood-altering substance. In 1979 Alexander G. Schauss, then the director of the Institute for Biosocial Research at City College in Tacoma, Washington, published the article “Tranquilizing Effect of Color Reduces Aggressive Behavior and Potential Violence” in the Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry. In it, he detailed how a specific shade of pink created by mixing one pint of outdoor semi-gloss red trim paint and one gallon of pure white indoor latex paint (try it at home!) had, at his urging, been used to coat a holding cell for new inmates at Seattle’s U.S. Naval Correctional Center. The new arrivals, typically the most violent detainees, turned docile after 15 minutes alone in the all-pink cells. Baker-Miller pink began to appear in many jails, juvenile detention centers and penitentiaries on the west coast, eventually earning the nickname drunk-tank pink. In at least one case, though, when a group of inmates were put in an all-pink cell for an extended period of time the color did not have the intended effect, and the irate prisoners started scratching the rosy paint off the walls.
The nine artists in “Drunk-Tank Pink” harness the hue’s behavior-modifying properties to achieve extremes of numb sedateness and hair-pulling madness. - thru Jan 25