9.17.2008

YouPrison

No, this is not some clone of YouTube, YouPorn and the like of them, but the title of an exhibition that will be held in Turin until October 12. Those who will be at the ECLS Conference and all those who take an interest in human rights may consider visiting it.

I'd call this exhibition Foucauldian, as all the installations are inspired to carceral architecture, and meant as a metaphor of the world we live in.

The whole experience is nicely summed up by the words Quite chilling and claustrophobic.

As soon as I stepped out of the building and saw children playing at a nearby playground I felt relieved. This feeling was short-lived though. It didn't take me long to get back to the very centre of Turin, where I now live. And to realize that the exhibition was very well conceived, since for some 30 minutes my mind couldn't stop drawing parallels between the places I was in and the concepts conveyed by the installations. It continued even when I walked into video surveilled shopping malls in search of colours and noises (Silence is what strikes you when you enter the exhibition. Black and grey predominate)


As far as the concepts are concerned, don't expect to find anything new: this exhibition is all about Panopticism. When we scholars approach/use the concept we adopt the perspective of the one who sees, of the warden sitting inside the central tower. What makes it worth to visit this exhibition is that you get another point of view: the point of view of the person who's actually locked up in a six square meters cell. And this one of those points of view that we don't normally get.

This is the installation I liked the most. Sort of a Kafkian machine meant to return prisoners of war to the enemy lines. I suspect it must be an extremely refined form of physical and psychological torture. I wanted to try it since you can touch and "try" all the installations (all you're supposed to do in this one is moving the coffin using your arms' strength) but my request was politely turned down.

So instead of trying this device I sat down and watched a documentary about the Orleans Parish Prison during and after hurricane Katrina...

YouPrison. Reflections on the limitation of freedom and space Fondazione Sandretto Re Baudengo
Via Modane 16, Turin

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