Art has no bars

The prison environment, once stripped of the suggestions provided by films and novels, becomes, through artistic reflection, a place for the revendication of human rights. Among the special projects of this year’s MArtelive Biennial there is Disegna le tue idee: L’ARTE NON HA SBARRE (Draw your ideas: ART HAS NO BARS), realized by LiberaMente, a youth association whose aim is to put people back at the center of life and public debate, led by activist Leonardo Maria Ruggeri Masini, and coordinated by Oriana Rizzuto, curator of the cultural projects related to street art and human rights for MArteSocial.

Jorit, “Marielle Franco”, 2022, murales, via Ugento 28. Ph. Street Art Roma, courtesy L’arte non ha sbarre

Thanks to the support of the Guarantor of Prisoners of Lazio and in collaboration with the Rebibbia prison – women’s section, the Disegna le tue idee: L’ARTE NON HA SBARRE initiative provided a course of artistic and civic education, with weekly meetings aimed at women prisoners, which ended with the creation of two murals by the artists Jorit and Moby Dick, and a third one, which is still in progress, by Barbara Oizmud. With the collaboration of Quarticciolo neighborhood’s inhabitants and local committee, on a wall there is the work by internationally known street artist from Naples, Jorit. While, within the prison of Rebibbia, the roman artist Moby Dick, known for his thinking on environmental integrity, and the multifaceted artist Barbara Oizmud prepared two more work, together with the help of the women of the district.

Moby Dick and Wilma Ciocci, in front of Moby Dick, “Liberamente”, 2022, murales, Rebibbia Prison, Rome. Courtesy L’arte non ha sbarre

The project, which won the public call Vitamina G promoted by Lazio Region, was also promoted within the program GenerazioniGiovani and financed by the Youth Policies of the Lazio Region with the support of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – Youth Department – which proposes a model of co-planning amid institutions, judiciary and the third sector in order to plan re-educational policies for prisoners based on the vector of cultural expression. In Disegna le tue idee: L’ARTE NON HA SBARRE the cultural and social dimensions meet offering to art the role of an amplifier of ideas, for the assertion of the right to self-determination and freedom of expression. The contamination between the two dimensions demonstrates the potential for generating a positive impact on the lives of individuals and communities, thus, by drawing the attention to the extent to which cultural exclusion can fuel other situations of social discrimination. Under the supervision of sociologist and criminologist Wilma Ciocci, the LiberaMente Association made it possible to organize a training course for the women inmates in the prison, punctuated by workshops held by the street artists involved. Thanks also to the active participation of criminologists and volunteers, this period constituted a time of personal growth, dialogue and relationship building, not only for and with the prison girls, but between all the professionals involved and the young volunteers of the association. The President of LiberaMente, Leonardo Maria Ruggeri Masini, declared: “This is a project realized in a network with all the categories involved in the world of prisons, from the judiciary to institutions, from associations to women deprived of their freedom, from citizens to experts; the only goal is to give concrete implementation to the principle of the re-educative function of the sentence. Through art, LiberaMente wanted to give female inmates the opportunity to learn a trade and express ideas and ambitions, overcoming the limits of prison bars”.

Barbarba Oizmud, sketch for the Cells Department of Rebibbia Prison, 2022. Courtesy L’arte non ha sbarre

More than eight months after the start of the workshops, the visual material, the testimonies of those involved, the reflections that arose during the meetings formed the basis for the three murals. Jorit’s mural, dedicated to Marielle Franco, a Brazilian politician, sociologist and activist murdered in 2018, was conceived after the stories of the young female inmates and the human rights issues addressed during the workshops. While Moby Dick and Barbra Oizmud took up and reworked, according to their own style, the drawings produced during the workshops, for the murals that are inside the institute. Disegna le tue idee: L’ARTE NON HA SBARRE promotes a rehabilitative function of the sentence, combining the valorization of the individual to the development of a personal will for redemption through art, adopting the design, implementation and monitoring of re-educational policies and activities, highlighting opportunities and critical aspects of the current Italian prison system.

Eleonora Reffo


AA.VV., Disegna le tue idee: L’ARTE NON HA SBARRE
curated by LiberaMente
within the MArteLive Biennal


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