Giovanna Brambilla

Visual arts as a threshold between prison and the museum

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Lifelong Learning; Vocational Training; Cultural Rights; Creative Expression; Inside/Outside Dynamics; Inter-Institutional Partnership.

"Gate" is the name of a project run in the past eight years by the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (GAMeC) in Bergamo Prison. The article starts by providing the essential background information, with a detailed description of the prison's population, an overview of the lifelong learning, vocational and cultural training programmes addressed to inmates, and a declaration of the principles guiding the "Gate" project. The author then goes on to describe the activities run by GAMeC since 2006, most of which have been structured as follows: the temporary exhibition on show is explored in prison through images, videos and texts, in dialogue with museum educators and fellow inmates (in a few cases the museum was able to bring original artworks inside the prison's walls; in others, projects were run in dialogue with secondary school students); arts workshops inspired by the exhibition result in further texts, images and videos, produced by prisoners, which are then displayed in GAMeC's exhibition spaces and in a virtual exhibition on the museum's website, so as to share the outcomes with the local community at large. The relationship between the "inside" and the "outside" emerges as one of the key strengths of the project, where the creative expression of prisoners, triggered by GAMeC's collections and temporary exhibitions, seems to herald a possible return to the real world.

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