On April 19, 2022 LIAF, Lofoten International Art Festival, unveils a permanent communal installation by artist Pauline Curnier Jardin (Marseille, France 1980) made in collaboration with the inmates of the Casa di Reclusione Femminile della Giudecca, an Italian women’s prison located in the XVI-century monastery of the Convertite where around 60 inmates now live. This project is curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi.
A recent winner of the Preis der National galerie, Curnier Jardin reworks the parlour room that connects the facility to the outside world, transforming it into a ritual space of encounter and celebration. Reversing institutional hierarchies, the inmates have briefed and commissioned Curnier Jardin. Together, through a series of collaborative workshops, photoshoots and drawing sessions with the Rio Terà dei Pensieri social cooperative, the Venice-based artist collective Casablanca studio and the Milan-based fashion brand DROMe, Curnier Jardin and the group of female inmates have reshaped the parlour of the penitentiary, using projections, furniture and wall paintings.
Adoration (censored version), a new film by the artist — developed through collective script writing and the animation of the inmates’ drawings and self-portrait pictures — is premiered on the big screen of the permanent installation.
The movie will then travel to Centraal Museum Utrecht, which coproduced the piece, and LIAF2022, which will open in Kabelvåg on September 3rd, 2022.
The redecoration of the room is inspired by Black Narcissus, a 1947 British psychological drama revolving around the growing tensions and desires within a small convent of Anglican nuns who are trying to establish a school in the old palace of an Indian Raja at the top of an isolated mountain in the Himalayas. Curnier Jardin’s project thus reveals a hidden history related to the Venetian monastery. Recent research shows that the parlour of the religious institution was used as a theatrical stage by the nuns who occasionally performed in front of their family members and Venetian authorities. Such carnival-like performances allowed the nuns to wear profane clothes and to suspend the social rules that forced them into a monastic life.
By overturning both the spectacular and exclusive logic of large-scale art events, and above all the isolation that has afflicted life in prisons during the pandemic, the work will be intended for the privileged use of the inhabitants of the detention community. The technical equipment, the objects and the signs that constitute it will be donated to the institution, so that the parlour can be used, on a permanent basis, as a hybrid space of reception.