The Penitentiary is a collaborative umbrella project by artists Marina Andrijčić-Ojeda and Catarina Ferreira. Under this title the artists will operate a series of independent, site-specific art exhibitions to take place in abandoned war-era prisons throughout Eastern Europe. They will create personal works as well as curate that of international artists to instill a shared dialogue of national memory through creative action. With this unity of worldwide culture, the project will explore what it means to be democratic; to possess the privilege of free speech; to live a life where expression is encouraged and government is overtaken by the hands of those who thrive in these same freedoms.
As a span of dictators and regimes have occupied this region for hundreds of years, in present day the project will shed light on each prison's overhead political history concurrent to its state of physical abandon. By hosting this series in the very prisons haunted by the Communist era, The Penitentiary will gain first-hand experience of the aftermath impacting nearby communities and their landscapes. The project invites the community to reconnect with these reinvented spaces and introduces the use and availability of unrestricted public art as a means of closure and new purpose.
The Battery Project is The Penitentiary's first exhibition and will take place at Patarei Prison located in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The Battery Project will accompany Estonia’s upcoming art scene to expand creative action.
With videos obscuring the intimacies of human relationships, experimental sound installations mingling with space, dangling sheets of paper illuminating hand-cut pattern, and light sculptures reflecting colored air, The Battery Project will showcase the contrasting translations of Patarei's history from the hands and minds of multiple artists.
Throughout The Battery Project's three-month duration, each month will experience a complete changeover of curated works, uses of space and featured artists. Artists will be encouraged to utilize all areas of prison grounds and occupy these decrepit spaces in ways deemed best suited for their work.
In addition, The Penitentiary will host a program of supporting events to coincide with the exhibition. Varying in nature, from performances, screenings, artist's talks, opening and closing receptions and so on, these events will offer entertainment, public engagement and education to the community of Tallinn.
Patarei “The Battery” Prison was built in 1840 as a sea-fortress to protect Estonia from foreign invaders. Unfortunately, the very thing Patarei stood to avoid was it’s ending demise.
After the first Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940 the prison came under the jurisdiction of the Soviet secret police. It was then transformed into a 10-acre fully functional prison with barracks, a theater, bakery, hospital and execution room, last used in 1991. After three Russian revolutions, a brutal German-Nazi occupation and a Red Army invasion, in 1992 Estonia finally gained independence, and in 2004 Patarei was shut down and since left abandoned.
Only a decade later, Patarei is founding a new movement which supports inventive and ambitious projects to thrive in an environment of spacial and conceptual freedom. Patarei has already become an important landmark to the arts and culture scene in Estonia by renewing the remnants of a morose Soviet past into a venue for creative utility.