The Penitentiary is a collaborative umbrella project by Marina Andrijcic-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 and curate that of other international artists to instill an open 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 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 first of the series, titled The Battery Project, took place last summer in an abandoned Soviet-Era prison in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The Battery Project involved three one-month exhibitions displaying the work of both co-founders in tandem with over a dozen artists form around the world and ongoing outdoor interactive installation.