On the occasion of the LIAF – Lofoten International Art Festival preview in Venice, curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, French artist Pauline Curnier Jardin presents a permanent communal installation in collaboration with the inmates of the Casa di Reclusione Femminile della Giudecca, an Italian women’s prison located in the former monastery of the Convertite.

The installation is part of the exhibition Something Out of It, opening in conjunction with the Venice Biennale of Visual Arts.

The artist reimagined the prison parlour room that connects the women’s prison to the outside world, transforming it into a ritualistic space for meaningful encounters. Reversing institutional hierarchies, the inmates have briefed and commissioned Curnier Jardin. Together, Curnier Jardin and the group of female inmates have reshaped the parlour of the penitentiary, using projections, furniture and wall paintings.

By overturning both the spectacular and exclusive nature of large-scale art events, and above all the isolation that has afflicted life in prisons during the pandemic, the work will be intended for the privileged use of the inhabitants of the detention community.

DROMe had the privilege to support the project and to hold two workshops where Creative Director Marianna Rosati and her team took a series of portraits with some of the inmates, inside the space they created with the artist.

In her words:

“The two workshop days have been an extraordinary journey that we shared together with the women that chose to participate, a forceful emotional experience for all of us. We made them part of the creation of the pictures, to give them the chance to rediscover their own bodies and their femininity, wearing clothes that were completely different from their everyday guise, seeing their own image and playing with it.

We met a group of women with very diverse backgrounds, each with their own past. We got to see their fragilities and their personalities unveiling in front of the camera. We witnessed the radical importance that simple gestures had for them, such as a putting on makeup, dressing up, expressing a lighter, carefree side of themselves even if just for a few hours. Our biggest achievement was giving them the occasion to embrace this lightness and to appreciate their own image, to feel seen in a different way, with different eyes. Some of them told us that they hadn’t felt this comfortable with themselves in a very long time, that during those hours they almost forgot where they were and that it was a great source of positive energy.

We believe that projects like this one are fundamental for the inmates: laboratories, educational and training activities allow them to connect with the outside world, to build a path of personal growth, and to gain back the dignity that is often lost with detention.

We want to thank Rio Terà dei Pensieri social cooperative, that promotes those activities and that walked us through this experience, LIAF, that gave us the opportunity to be part of this unique project, and each of the women we met, we’re deeply grateful.”

The permanent installation will be unveiled on April 19th, 2022.


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