The contemporary art foundation Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (FSRR) dedicates an important exhibition event to the theme of prison architecture with the group show YouPrison. Reflections on the limitation of freedom and space. Curated by Francesco Bonami, the show will run at the FSRR Turin centre for contemporary art from 12 June to 12 October 2008.
In a year which sees Turin as the first Italian city to host a world Congress of the International Union of Architects (UIA), FSRR is proud to be presenting such a red-hot exhibition theme, of extreme relevance throughout the world today. Modern day architecture enjoys wide media coverage, thanks to the proliferation of spectacular buildings such as museums, theatres etc. but an idea for a prison would never receive such attention. What is being dealt with, nevertheless, is probably one of the most difficult and challenging architectural themes, in which the way space is organised forms part of the juridical and political principles of criminal punishment. 11 architect studios from all over the world have been invited to design a prison cell, furnished with all the essentials for prison life. Each cell is produced life-size, giving visitors a taste of what isolation and reclusion feels like. In this way, the cell becomes a means to speculate on the larger system in which it plays an essential part. The exhibition theme offers reflection on numerous issues of public interest, such as the limitations of freedom, the respect of human rights, the instruments of surveillance and control, urban evolution and its influence on living spaces. In addition, the fact that the participating architects come from such diverse countries spread across the globe, offers an insight into a context in which social and political priorities can be very different.
As it has emerged from some of the preliminary projects received so far, In fact, the architects involved have gone beyond simple architectural terms to reveal a dilemma in which, for some, implies their ethic position regarding the theme. More than a realistic prison cell, therefore, the realised space could become an installation whereby the use of elaborate interactive software simulates diverse spatial configurations, in proportion with the different categories of crime and security, as is seen in the project presented by the architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. In the project by the Serbian architect, Anna Miljacki, instead, the cell is transformed into an exhibition space for investigation into the complex prison system in America, particularly highlighting its relationship and position within the economic and industrial structure. A much-debated issue today. Isolation in the intellectual context is examined in the project by Ines & Eyal Weizman, who have created a library of all the books ever written in prison, from the letters of Saint Paul to the writings of Jean Genet, Gandhi and Gramsci. This library of ‘prison literature’ will be donated to a reformatory institute at the end of the exhibition. The installation includes a website designed by Polimekanos/Wolfram Wiedner and The Cell - a DVD project by Angela Melitopoulos containing interviews with Italian Philosopher Antonio Negri, regarding his prison sentence, spanning the period of 1997-2003. Lastly, the architect Marco Navarra (studio NOWA), has developed a collaboration with the prison of Caltagirone, the town in the South of Italy where he has his offices, by asking the prisoners to draw a real or imaginary cell. In this way, those who are used living their daily lives in isolation, who can feel the limitations of space and freedom in their bones, are involved in the project. The hundreds of drawings collected will be made into small-scale models that will be exhibited on the walls of the cell.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by THE BOOKMAKERS ED.
Alexander Brodsky, Moscow, Russia
Atelier Bow-Wow, Tokyo, Japan
Diller Scofidio + Renfro with David Allin, Hayley Eber, Eric Rothfeder, New York, USA
INABA (Jeffrey Inaba) and SLAB Architecture (Jeffrey Johnson), Los Angeles, USA
DW5 / Bernard Khoury, Beirut, Lebanon
project_ (Ana Miljacki and Lee Moreau), Benjamin Porto and Dan Sakai, Brooklyn, USA
Nowa, Catania, Italy
sciSKEW Collaborative, Shanghai, China and New York, USA
Kianoosh Vahabi, Tehran, Iran
Eyal+Ines Weizman, London, UK - (DVD project by Angela Melitopoulos and web design by Polimekanos/Wolfram Wiedner)
Yung Ho Chang- Atelier FCJZ, Peking, China