Bird in Flight Prize ’18 finalist: Useful deeds
Anastasia Rudenko, Russia
The artist traveled with a camera to several penitentiaries within one Russian region where she is based and where she was able to get access and permission to photograph during the open days – a rare opportunity for the media to get a glimpse of life inside the Federal Penitentiary Service (or FSIN), a successor agency to the State Directorate of the Camps, the Gulag.
These open days are thoroughly orchestrated events designed by the penal administration to create “positive” publicity and to conceal the dismal reality of torture and inhumanity so characteristic of Russia’s prison system that remains largely unreformed since Stalin. Though the first reaction when looking at these photographs could be a dismay at how the photographer seems to be playing into the hands of the administration, portraying an almost idyllic picture of life behind bars, a second thought may lead to a revelation that these images in fact create a metaphor of the current Russian political regime in general.
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