Australian Artists Team Up with Inmates to Create Video Art

A photo of a man's hands reaching through prison bars.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Four artists joined forces with four inmates at Risdon Prison in Tasmania, Australia to create video artworks that portray the lives of the incarcerated. The project, titled “Pink Palace,” is named after the prison’s once-pink exterior. The artworks were displayed at an abandoned Goodyear tire building in Hobart from June 9–24, 2018.

The project is part of “Dark Mofo,” a winter festival linked to old solstice rituals. According to The Examiner, the festival explores “… the links between ancient and contemporary mythology, humans and nature, religious and secular traditions, darkness and light, and birth, death and renewal.”

Although the inmates weren’t allowed to be fully identified, The Art Newspaper divulged the first names of the art partners: Samuel and Kristy, Dexter and Patrick, Tess and Michael, and Maria and Karen.

The “Pink Palace” videos used stop-motion to capture dark, swirly paintings that explore inmates’ lives. One of the videos, co-created by Maria and Karen, showcased a painted galloping horse inspired by Salvadore—Karen’s imaginary horse in prison that slept at the foot of her bed.

“The experience working with Karen has been intense and disturbing at times, but also very moving for me,” artist Maria told The Art Newspaper. “Our relationship has been a curious unfolding because I’m not really allowed to share personal information with her… but through the act of making a piece in response to her experience and sharing it with her, I feel we have a unique closeness I can’t really compare to anything.”

Maria went on to explain that the piece wasn’t really a political critique of the prison. Rather, Maria and Karen’s work explored a cyclic representation of the “potential darkness” of Karen’s mental illness in the setting of incarceration. Outside of the prison, Maria joined forces with Leni Philippe-Janon, a musician friend of hers who created the soundtrack for “Pink Palace.”

Other videos in “Pink Palace” include virtual inmates, a potato currency, and an endurance performance.

“Time moves differently on the inside,” reads the program’s website.



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