On both sides of prison 2

Tomas Pabedinskas
www.kamane.lt, 2014-04-14
Project “Made Corrections”

In brief: The project “Made Corrections” was born from the informal discussion of two British artists David Ellis and Dean Stalham about the self-awareness, identity, social status and possibilities to change of imprisoned people. Three years ago both artists decided that actions were more important than words. The project later involved the British connoisseur of street art Olly Walker, the duo of street art creators from Kaunas Tadas Šimkus and Žygimantas Amelynas, their colleague from Vilnius Ernestas Zacharevičius, writer Gabija Grušaitė and photographer Donatas Stankevičius. The participants of “Made Corrections” project also cooperated with the famous French artist JR and, most importantly, juveniles serving their sentence in Kaunas juvenile correction establishment.

Although the project was implemented in the imprisonment institution and the biggest attention of artists was focused on the convicts, the question arises how it is important to the society. The creative team of “Made Corrections” did not limit with the prison walls – part of the project was presented in the city. Images of young people that are in the social periphery appeared in the Independence Square of Kaunas. Large format portraits of convicts created by D. Stankevičius livened up the former police building – the forlorn building was noticed by the city inhabitants again. Most probably, eyes of passers-by were drawn not by “art” but by the challenge cast to them indirectly. Inhabitants of the correction establishment returned to the public space by their voluntary wish to be photographed and to be displayed.

The possibility to emphasise their identity is important to the convicts. The project initiators raised a question to themselves whether an imprisoned man gains the status of a former prisoner for the entire life or perhaps the personality of the convicts could change in fact and decided to search for the answers in the reality of the prison. The inhabitants of the correction home were offered a possibility to change their self-awareness by being photographed and by participating in the creative process along with artists.

No wonder that a big part of creation of the project participants remained within the prison walls. Stencil graffitis, drawings and the improvised outdoor gallery of portrait photography created here will be destroyed by time, and their fate will depend on the convicts. The possibility to change will perhaps remain unused by the majority of convicts. Still, artists’ works will live their lives in Kaunas juvenile correction establishment not as exhibits dedicated for the pleasure of the outside free world but as a vitally important sign of possible change in everyday life of the convicts.

Project “Made Corrections”

The alibi of the project “Made Corrections” is the personal experience of one of its initiators D. Stalham. He spent several years in prison in his teenage years and refused the criminal’s life only when he was over forty years of age. When he was in prison, he accepted the fatal decision to participate in creative workshops, and this choice was the start of his further career as a writer and artist.

Therefore, the project initiators do not hope to save the world but state that “if the project saves at least one life, its results will be monumental.”

Photos by Tomas Pabedinskas

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