Container installations in public space by Martin Krenn & Oliver Ressler
Site-specific versions of the container installation were produced on the following occasions:
“real* utopia”, container installation in the Annenstraße/near Südtirolerplatz in Graz (AT), initiated by <rotor> in the framework of Cultural Capital Graz 2003, 24 May – 26 October 2003
“European Corrections Corporation”, container installation at Stadtplatz in Wels (AT) in collaboration with Galerie der Stadt Wels as part of the Festival der Regionen, 28 June – 5 July 2003
“European Corrections Corporation”, container installation at the Sendlinger-Tor-Platz in Munich (DE) as part of a project by Kunstraum München, 16 April – 2 May 2004
The institution prison is an instrument of discipline, punishment, and exclusion, and functions as an agent of control and normalization. In today’s society, the prison also has an additional important role as a site of economic production, in which the prisoners must work for a minimum wage. For the most part, it is the expanding prison industry that profits from this enterprise.
In the U.S., corporations such as Wackenhut and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) have aspired to high profits through building and operating correctional facilities since the 1980s. Their influence has also continued to increase in Europe for the past years. They consider the European market as a growth market, which they want a share of as early as possible. CCA has pushed forward the construction and management of partially privatized prisons in France. Wackenhut and CCA have already been building and running correctional facilities in Great Britain for more than ten years. There, not one single state prison has been built since opening the prison system to private companies.
The project “European Corrections Corporation” focuses on the phenomenon of the advancing privatization of prisons in Europe and questions the institution of the prison. A walk-in container, 605 x 243 x 259 cm, covered with a printed tarpaulin, has been placed in pedestrian zones situated in the center of Graz (AT), Wels (AT) and Munich (DE). The tarpaulin features a detailed CAD graphic with text commentary, which visualizes the future privatization and rebuilding of the Graz-Karlau, Wels or Munich correctional facility. As with a real company, EUCC (European Corrections Corporation) attempts to use the prison as a de-territorialized site of production within the capitalist economy and presents a model for the profitable utilization of the prisoners’ labor. Thus, the construction of prison buildings in the correctional facilities in Graz, Wels and Munich is meant to double the number of spaces available for prisoners in order to provide more labor power and therefore more profit.
Inside the container a seventeen-minute video was projected, based on an interview with the British activist Mark Barnsley. Barnsley was incarcerated for eight years in twenty-two different private and state prisons in Great Britain and consistently refused to work there. Barnsley shows that underlying both state-run and privately-run prisons is the idea that criminality is a disease and a social evil, which they attempt to maintain with force, with disciplinary machines. The video discusses the function and the transformation of the prison as an institution and shows possibilities for resistance inside and outside of the prisons.
CAD graphics: Hubert Marz