to be aware of outsiders, that is, marginalised groups in a society, to register and research conditions they live under, and to demand public visibility for them, is the main concern of this arts and science research project. Such groups all suffer from similar systematic exclusion procedures that push them over and over again further to the margins of society. Unlike their male fellow sufferers, drug-addicted women in European prisons are considered a “negligible phenomenon”. The work of the OUTCAST REGISTRATION counters this by recognising the need of the participants to make their lives a public affair, which ultimately also means laying part of the responsibility for their illness at society’s door.
born in 1976, Rebecca took part in the Prison Wear Collection project that was held in the women’s correctional facility in Vechta, Lower Saxony, in 2000/2001 and during this time she becomes clean. After completing the project, she entered inpatient therapy for the first time, where she was confronted with the causes of her illness. In the second phase of the therapy under semi-open supervision, she had a relapse, lived on the streets from prostitution, and was imprisoned again a short time later. Rebecca Mertens’ life is characterised by the revolving door effect and is exemplary in this respect, while her radical openness and self-examination are extraordinary. The collaboration with her has been intense from the beginning and continues to this day, despite long breaks. Her biography is the strongest call to register and conduct further research into the living conditions of women in European prisons before and after the onset of their drug addiction disease.
the projects of the OUTCAST REGISTRATION operate in different topological spheres, that is, in spaces that reflect specific social functions and all have a private (individual) and a public (communal) meaning. The fact that private space is largely excluded highlights the problematic fact that the private sphere in democratic systems is fundamentally—and constitutionally—hidden from public view. While this does protect from state control and interference, it does not protect those who are exposed to (sexual) violence behind closed doors. For all the women who participated in the projects, the private space has never been a protective space, as is clear from their respective biographies—on the contrary. Since access to private space is denied, the OUTCAST REGISTRATION projects concentrate on social spaces that are accessible but under normal circumstances strictly separated from each other, and it is there that encounters or even confrontations are initiated between their inhabitants: — in isolated spaces, where segregated life far away from society is imposed, for example, in prisons, therapy facilities, psychiatric wards, and asylum seekers centres; — in cultural spaces, that is, institutionally legitimised and supported spaces and facilities, including museums, art halls and galleries, as well as, for example, playgrounds, parks, and zoos; spaces that are categorically in contrast to subcultural, secret, or even forbidden spaces for ideas, thoughts, and life styles, which are rejected by the majority and/or officially banished from the public sphere; — in the public realm, which ideally expresses the need and obligation of all people to be able to articulate in public everything that concerns all us, independent of whether they have been granted, have acquired, or have coerced authorisations and privileges. In the sense of Hannah Arendt, the sphere of what is public is not only a possibility, but rather a call to action.
a pre-printed catalogue of terms, both positively and negatively contextualisable, which are selected and assigned to the respective stages of life, and enable the women involved to provide information that is not emotionally charged or judgemental about traumatic experiences that had previously been impossible to communicate.
a biographical protocol that uses the Matrix Method to collect facts as soberly as possible which is devoid of emotional suggestion. From the resulting collages of words the biographers formulate sentences in the present tense, so that the events of the past are brought into the present.
as well as graphs, digital drawings, statistics, etc., assemble and visualise empirically collected data and facts from criminal records. The criminal offenses of the respective project participant are depicted in this way (see the diagram Criminal Offenses I), which resulted in conviction and imprisonment, as well as the criminal offenses committed against her, including their consequences (see the diagram Criminal Offenses II). In conjunction with the events given in the “basic” biography and the notes from memory protocols of countless conversations (in person, by telephone, and in writing) that Ulrike Möntmann conducted with the participants, the specific conditions, patterns, and recurring consequences are illustrated and contextualised.