How I Tried to Turn Prison into a Colorful Experience
I was asked several years ago to propose a concept for the visitors’ tunnel at a soon-to-be built prison in Duesseldorf. Germany has a budget for public art in or connected to government buildings, which made the project possible. The Justizvollzugsanstalt (prison) was built within the guidelines of humane prisons in Europe. It is a so-called model institution because the building itself was not designed by an outside architecture firm, but rather by a team of people with experience in prison life and routines.
As a visual artist, my task was to come up with an idea to turn the tunnel—more than 40 meters long—into something other than a depressing walking experience. Family, relatives, lawyers, social workers, parole officers, priests and police all had to use the tunnel to reach the visitors’ area located in another building inside the prison compound. Access to the tunnel requires a security funnel, more intense than any pre-flight security.