I wake up and I see the prison

Reflections on Sörkka

The installation presents a component of an ongoing relational project Invisible Neighbours that looks at the connection of prisons and their neighbourhoods. The project is focused on the phenomena of a prison in the city, its relationship with the environment as well as the space within the institution itself, both told by its inhabitants and neighbours.

They come out and they are completely lost. While they were doing their 10 years, the world has changed, again. All their old friends are gone, and in the park where they used to drink together, there is now a cafe that sells exotic sandwiches with peanuts and strawberry things.

Imprisonment, whether firsthand or of a relative or a friend is not subject discussed openly in public. However in reality the experience of incarceration is ever present. We all know someone behind bars, but we are too ashamed to talk about it. In this project prison is openly discussed, in the hope to understand it, rather than fear it, to draw attention on its role in our lives and the lives of others. It aims to breakdown the mystery of prison and crime, changing it from the unknown and distant to become our collective responsibility instead, encouraging the larger social change.

The point is to educate... but how can you really educate people by holding them inside a room?

Reflections on Sörkka is an artistic response to the series of interviews carried out defining the presence of the prison in Helsinki in our everyday lives. The prison is located near the region of Kallio – once a working class suburb, then a bohemian home to artists and drunks, and now gentrified nice area nostalgic for its former controversy. Formally known as Helsinki prison, the jail gets its nickname Sörkka from the proximity to Sörnäinen area. Around the prison, founded in the year 1881, numerous residential buildings have continued to emerge. For this project, the residents of those buildings were interviewed, alongside the inmates and guards of the prison itself, discussing the inside and the outside and describing their experiences of the prison.

How has it changed me? How will other people look at me? What is their image? I have been in prison, so fucking what.

The installation presents audio recordings of the interviews. Here, one telephone has the voice of the ‘insiders’ and other of the ‘outsiders’. The viewer encounters a stranger in a stereotypical prison meeting room, in circumstances, reserved for close relatives and lawyers. Through the experience not only do we bring into light the Finnish penitentiary system, but also our own imprisonment in the capitalist society.

I wake up and I see the prison, I go to bed and I see the prison, and I feel like I am in a prison myself, in this world of rented apartments.

Participants were interviewed in a place of their choice, including cafes and their own homes, and the editing was done together with them. Thank you, d.joosep, Kukka, Julius Koskela, Summer worker.