Something Out of It
Curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi
Casa di Reclusione Femminile (Women’s Prison), Venice
20 – 24 April 2022

A recent winner of the Preis der Nationalgalerie, Curnier Jardin reimagines the prison parlour room that connects the women’s prison to the outside world, transforming it into a ritualistic space for meaningful encounters.

Reversing institutional hierarchies, the inmates have briefed and commissioned Curnier Jardin. Together, through a series of collaborative workshops and drawing sessions with the Rio Terà dei Pensieri social cooperative and the Venice-based artist collective Casablanca studio, Curnier Jardin and the group of female inmates have reshaped the parlour of the penitentiary, using projections, furniture and wall paintings. A new film by the artist—developed through the collaboration and collective script writing with inmates—will also be presented, co-produced by the Centraal Museum Utrecht.

This new project from Curnier Jardin reveals the hidden history of the monastery from the 16th to the 19th century. Recent research shows that the parlour of the religious institution was used as a stage by the nuns who occasionally performed for families and Venetian authorities. Such carnivalesque performances allowed the nuns to transform, wear profane clothes and suspend the social rules that forced the women 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.

Photos by Tania Innocenti.