The project consists of several phases inside and outside a prison, the Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen Vechta (women's prison Vechta, Germany) to be conducted in collaboration with present or former detainees who are (or were) drug addicts; A collaboration between artist Ulrike Möntmann (Amsterdam), fashion designer Anneclaire Kersten (Amsterdam) and photographer Luuk Kramer (Amsterdam).
Women in prison display a striking tendency towards vanity. Where pride and self-respect have long been broken, the need to smarten themselves up; and they draw on every possible resource to do so: dying their hair a different colour every week, piercings where possible, tattoos, jewellery galore, and impressive shoes, preferably with platform soles.
The desire to enhance one's appearance is a general human urge; in that sense, these women are no different from anyone else. The quest for one's own image is a universal way of expressing individuality, whether in prison or elsewhere. But in a place where everyone is subjected to precisely the same treatment, where the rhythm of eating, drinking, working, sleeping and recreation follows a strict regime, where any individuality is more likely to arouse suspicion than admiration, the need to rebel against one's surroundings is physically tangible.
In his Les chemins de la liberté (The Roads to Freedom, 1945), Jean-Paul Sartre describes the determined and sustained efforts of a prisoner-of-war in an internment camp to look well-groomed. All around him, he sees a general degeneration setting in, accompanied by an inexorable decline in moral awareness. The prisoner feels that a slovenly appearance would signify capitulation […] not only to his jailers but also to his own despair. […]
Fragment from: DOREENKLETTJURK EN ANKMONKLETTBUNKER, Louise Schouwenberg, 2000
PCC - Phase 1 - 1999 European Ceramic Work Centre (EKWC), 's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Production of four more than life-sized Procession Madonnas. As is customary in southern European countries, the madonna is bald and armless; here she has been endowed with the facial features of the detainee Cornelia Kneier, one of the particpants in the Lücke Project. In prison, the porcelain Kneiers serve as tailor's dummies and furnish the garments with a body.
Production of a series of clothing sculptures of (mainly) non-wearable garments, made from grey prison blankets. The Prison Clothes Collection will be exhibited at Amsterdam district court, among other places.
The detainees' efforts to adhere to the standards of 'normal life' contrast starkly with their life experience and expectations. Seven of the eight women participating in CGK/1 were released from this prison in 2001. I followed them during the period they subsequently spent in the outside world, in treatment centres and/or other prisons.
Enthusiasm for any useful or useless activity in prison is always zero. It does not matter whether the activity concerned is some mindless task in the plastics workshop (screwing rubber tips onto table legs, for instance) or learning how to model and glaze ashtrays during a well-intentioned pottery course. What does matter is that none of the activities, whether optional or compulsory, bear any relation to the detainees' own experience or needs.
PCC - Phase 3 - 2002
The Ministry of Justice, Hannover, Germany, Prison Work Department, grants my request to install the production of Prison Clothes Collection/II as a form of prison work.
JESSICAKLETTJURKD1 Dress, decorated with tattoos and piercings. Material: outside white woven; Tattoos: black Velcro; piercings: metal, covered in pink imitation leather; Inside of dress: pink imitation leather; Location: D1
NADINESLAAPZAKMOONLIGHT Sleeping-bag. Materials: six smocked prison blankets shaped into a cylinder. Location: Bed in isolation cell [Moonlight]
a core element of the artistic and scientific research approach conducted for all projects, which distinguishes the collaboration with women convicted of drug abuse, with colleagues, scientists and institutions, as well as the dialogue with specialists from various fields such as philosophy, art (theory), psychiatry, sociology, political science, and law. The circulation of findings in the OUTCAST REGISTRATION network is expanded through the partly direct, partly mediated linking of different expertises.