ProjectsIsolation

⇣ Read description

Isolation

2015-2016

In collaboration with former prison chaplain Kamille Nygård
 
Notes posted by prison guards on the doors of the seven solitary confinement cells at Ringe State Prison in Denmark. Every time a prisoner leaves solitary confinement a prison guard writes a report on the condition of the cell.
 
Excerpt from the text NO EXIT by former prison chaplain Kamille Nygård
 
“The doors to the solitary confinement cells are blue and made of iron. To the outsider they symbolise a state brutality that belongs to the past. I choose to see them as something else: doors of intimacy. Because the person opening the door (for security purposes there are always two, the second standing slightly behind the first), the one turning the key and opening the door always takes the risk of entering an intimate sphere. He or she arbitrarily intrudes. The prisoner is either asleep (who can tell whether it is night or day?), writing page after page of letters, the same thoughts again and again, or doing something forbidden (like smoking hash, masturbating or maybe carving something into the windowsill). Or else they have switched on the TV hanging on the wall, like an alibi, watching television without looking.1 They do nothing, and that is what is obscene. Women prisoners usually lie under a blanket like victims, or sit briefly on the chair to roll a cigarette before lying back down. No one knows what happens in there 23 hours a day.”
 
“But there are also those who resist in desperation. Who scream and hate and send curses through the walls. Who carve their names on the edge of the bed as if to assume some control of the situation: I am who I am! Fuck Ringe Prison! Who wrap paper around one of the two light bulbs in the cell so it catches fire. Or who just pour their coffee over the walls – calmly and methodically. Who scratch the skin of the institution that affects to feel nothing. Marks and symbols and signs of life, only partly decipherable and so badly spelt it is as if they come from a parallel universe that is trying to shout out to this world – or give it the finger.”
 
Example of captions following the photographs :
 
Writing on mirror
Red marks on intercom
 
Lights + TV OK
 

 
Blue marks on floor
Scorch mark on ceiling
Writing on back left wall
(Attempts at removal)
 
Lights OK
 

 
Scorch marks on ceiling
Small marks everywhere
But no writing on walls
 
Lights OK
 

 
‘Fuck Ringe’ scorched on ceiling
Slashed window
Gouging on windowsill
Drawing on back of door
 

 
Scratches under window
‘ISO [solitary confinement] no sweat’ written
on wall next to bed
Window cracked
 
Lights OK
TV OK
 

 
‘SCO 2015’ scratched under window
Door covered in writing
Writing in other areas of room
 
Lights OK
 

 
‘Fuck THE’ scratched on intercom
Scratches on back of door
 
Lights and TV OK
 

 
Writing + paint missing on back of door
Attempt to wash above bed
Writing on intercom
Table + bed + chair covered in writing
 
TV/Lights OK