Interim progress report. May 2018.
The present situation is as follows: If possible, I visit the various prison facilities on a weekly basis and spend between two hours and a full day there. In the past few months I have had the opportunity to work with eighteen people who come from almost all fields of prison employment. I work with a range of people, from guards to a priest and nurse. I try to spend as much time as possible with them, accompanying them in their daily routines. In this way I not only get to know them on a personal level but gain insights into their world of work and their professional experiences. Through my work I get a small glimpse into peopleÊ¼s lives and into their work struggles. With all the stories that I carry around with me, resisting the temptation to provide answers is an underlying challenge. How do I tell a story about people without revealing everything and compromising their integrity?
The time I spend with people, and the relationships that have developed allow me to be able to depict them in an authentic visual language. I have the feeling that although I now know a lot, I am still at the very beginning -I know very little. Despite this, the prison environment has become normalized for me. There is a clash between this world and my personal world and work world and I find it challenging to switch between these. On the one hand, I want to gain a deeper understanding of the prison world by spending a prolonged period there in one go, however at the same time I need to leave and close the door. This contradiction presents a hurdle for me as a documentary photographer.
Since 2011 confinement has been my central theme. It is important to me to do justice to the people I meet and the stories I hear. In my work I walk a line between the internal prison world and the depiction of this world to those who are outside it. Maintaining a clear separation between the emotional and professional aspects involved, is a continual challenge as is bringing the process to an end.
In the last few months I have taken a pool of photographs and am now in the process of editing them. The end result will remain as initially planned; individual staff portraits and portraits of them in their work place. Short texts will be included describing their work environment /s well /s interview excerpts.
I am incredibly grateful to those who chose to participate in this project and thank them for the trust they have put in me.
About Artist Dis-Placement:Â
FiveÂ other artists are or have been placed at different institutions: Victoria Tomaschko (DE) works with inmates and employees of the womenâ€™s prison, Jan van Esch (NL)Â wasÂ at the DRK Berlin, Czech artist Viktor Vejvoda workedÂ at the BSR (Berlin waste management), Alona Rodeh, a Berlin based Israeli artist, looked behind the scenes of the Feuerwehr Berlin (Berlin fire brigade) and Ben Nathan (GB) joined a metal recycling company.
More info about the Artist Dis-Placement programÂ here.Â