Marina Paulenka


Požega Penitentiary is the only female prison in Croatia where more than 130 prisoners serve their prison sentences of six months to more. Croatian “Law Execution of Sentences of Imprisonment” states that photographing or filming of prisoners is allowed only in a way in which they cannot be identified. Due to the fact that historical reductive forensic portraits in their depictions delete everything except the criminal identity, I am trying to show the complex way of women’s lives deprived of their liberty, with photographs of existing scenes in dormitories, cells, bathrooms, “personal items” and their invisible traces, as they are often presented and experienced in society as the Others.

Within the same story, I visualize topics such as womanhood, intimacy, motherhood, home, and surveillance and architecture, in order to emphasize the traces of the presence of women inside the prison. I question the notion of freedom inside and outside of supervisory institutions’ architecture, while comparing it with a family home, which is often a model under which the prison system operates for a purpose of the “re-education of women”. According to many feminist theories, a family home is the central social scene in which a woman is simultaneously the subject and the object of control, but if a home looks like a prison how do we then perceive a public institution in which prisoners serve their prison sentences?

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