The most of my life I have lived side by side with one of the most famous prisons in Russia. The prison space has begun behind the wall of my kitchen. Every day I walked along a red brick wall with barbed wire, but what was behind the wall was always hidden from my eyes. Prison cells, surveillance cameras, and people in uniform have surrounded me since childhood.
In society around me, government controls almost all spheres of life through control and restrictions. And the police and security agencies play the lead role in politics and public life. I feel like that red brick wall was just an object in a space, which doesn’t confine the disciplinary power.
In my project, I explore the topic of government control inherent in modern society. At the end of the 18th century, the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham proposed a project for an ideal prison — the Panopticon, which later became a metaphor for a disciplinary society construction. In the design of the Panopticon, power works through the asymmetry of knowledge, where light and the warden gaze plays the key role. The light imprisons better than the darkness that hides the prisoner. Working with a medium of photography that is also closely linked to light, I explore the possibilities of escaping ever-present control and my perception of power through photography, turning to my experience of growing up close to the prison and combining this with the reality around me.
In this project, I use photography, archive photos, visual cryptography, and found images.
All images ©Dmitrii Vasilev