The House That Herman Built

»[This project] helps me to maintain what little sanity I have left, to maintain my humanity and dignity. It’s probably the best move that I’ve ever made in my life.«– Herman Wallace

In 2001 Herman Wallace a Black Panther activist and member of the Angola Three while in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, received a letter from artist Jackie Sumell. After two years of writing, Jackie asked Herman a very simple question, »what kind of house does a man whose been in solitary confinement for 30 years dream of?«. He responded reluctantly, true to his revolutionary nature that is critical of the consumer capitalist lifestyle. He finally relented as a favour to Jackie, »let’s do the project baby, you done gone way out there in that water, let’s see how we do together«. He later told her, »this is the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life«. Five years in the making the project included 2006 several letters, drawings, two architectural models, a 1:1 model of Herman’s cell and a 3-D animated film, from which a 5 minute excerpt you can watch here.

On October 1st, 2013 Herman’s conviction was overturned and he left the prison as a free and innocent man, only to pass away peacefully three days later surrounded by its supporters. In the wake of Herman’s death, this project continues to elevate the conversation around the practice of long term solitary confinement in hopes of bringing it to an end. For any further information on the project please visit:

Since 2010 the Akademie Schloss Solitude is hosting Herman Wallace‘s library until his dream home is being built in New Orleans, where he grew up. Contextually, the library illustrates a portrait of a remarkable man and documents the tragic effects of torture. Complications of these effects are made visible through the ongoing correspondence between the Akademie‘s Director Jean-Baptiste Joly and Herman Wallace. The physical books of Herman‘s Library together with the correspondence with Herman, are on display in the new library of Akademie Schloss Solitude. But also in form of a Digital Herman’s Library, due to activists and former fellows of Akademie Schloss Solitude Tomislav Medak & Marcell Mars and their project of a Public Library in the age of Internet.