Designed by: Holzer Kobler Architekturen
For client: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva (MICR) in partnership with the Musée des Confluences in Lyon (MDC) and the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden (DHMD) Floor area: 600.00 M² Year of completion: 2019
Submitted for: Exhibition of the Year

02 Held Prisoner 15 Mb
© © Radek Brunecky

Held prisoner: When entering the exhibition, three cells made of bars catch the visitor's eyes. They are a reminiscence of captivity and yet recognizably abstract and thus by their color and shape perceptible as a museum-like construction.

About the Project

Prison is a multilateral project, organised by three European institutions: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva (MICR) in partnership with the Musée des Confluences in Lyon (MDC) and the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden (DHMD). The exhibition deals with the themes of confinement, detention conditions, exclusion, but also reintegration and the role of the judiciary. Each of these equally compelling notions serves as a reminder that incarceration is a complex and multidisciplinary issue – subjected to the particular current societal conditions.
The manifold and unconventional scenography explores this complex theme and reflects the inside of prisons – the situation behind bars – as well as the outside – the freedom and autonomy – in a colourful and positivistic manner. Architecturally, the exhibition is divided into five sections. The introduction and the conclusion are created as open zones, dedicated to historical and socio-political issues. They form the visual and contextual bond. The main three sections comprise imprisonment, life in prison, and breach of rule. Historical, philosophical, and sociological aspects of incarceration reveal the ambiguous reality of detention. They break down stereotypes and raise the possibility of alternatives to authoritarian and antiquated punitive systems – calling the visitors for actively getting involved with the questions of incarceration, to become aware of individual agency and to assume responsibility.

What’s unique about it

Prison – a tri-national exhibition project of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva (MICR) in partnership with the Musée des Confluences in Lyon (MDC) and the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden (DHMD) - explores the historical, philosophical, anthropological and sociological aspects of incarceration, and provokes with its design and structure a critical reflection on detention and detention conditions, the prison as a reformatory – as it was conceptualized in the 16th century in Holland – and the life behind bars in the context of overpopulation, violence, sexuality or health. The powerful scenography of Holzer Kobler Architekturen reflects on this explosive theme, inviting visitors to a journey that intelligently avoids all pitfalls or hastily conclusions and encourages an intelligent debate. Three large orange cages – particularly in the United States an indication of the colour of prison uniforms or "orange is the new black" – enclose and show the universe of imprisonment. On the walls, the green colour speaks of hope and freedom. Several stations within the exhibition invite the visitors to experience the difficulties of detention and to actively partake and enhance the impact of the exhibition. In revealing the ambiguous reality of detention, the exhibition breaks down stereotypes and raises the possibility of alternatives to a punitive system that dates back to the 18th century.

03 Resistance Against The System 15 Mb
© © Radek Brunecky

Resistance against the system: In a chaotic, almost threatening backdrop of wooden planks, the subject of rebellion and escape is conveyed in a sensual and visual way.

01 Prison An Exhibition That Breaks With Stereotypes 15 Mb
© © Radek Brunecky

Prison, an exhibition that breaks with stereotypes: The subject of Prison is strongly emotionally charged in the public perception and causes irritation, but also fascination. The scenography is dedicated to translate this broad spectrum into the storyte

04 Human Dimensions 15 Mb
© © Radek Brunecky

Human dimensions: An elegant, simple, and expansive showcase conveys, which creative potentials imprisonment is capable to generate.

05 Existential Freedom 15 Mb
© © Radek Brunecky

Existential freedom: At several media stations the visitors are confronted with individual actors of prisons or with their own attitude towards the prison as a place of custody and chastisement.

Location of project:
Holzer Kobler Architekturen, Zurich/Berlin

Arno Mathies

Expomobilia, Zurich

Serafin Brandenberger

Fondation des ateliers Feux Verts, Geneva

Module Investment, Pszczyna

Sarah Schiltknecht

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