In this month’s Library post, we take a look at two publications that open doors to a world that that only takes place behind bars. Tools of Disobedience by Mélanie Veuillet shows contraband items that inmates construct to not only protect themselves, but to gain a sense of normality to their lives, whilst The Prison by Koto Bolofo examines the heartbeat of a prison.
Tools of Disobedience by Mélanie Veuillet, Edition Patrick Frey
Presenting 185 photographs shot at prisons in Romandy, Switzerland, in 2014, Tools of Disobedience by Mélanie Veuillet reveals the wide range of often confiscated weapons and tools that inmates make whilst confined to their cells. For the most part, the objects are functional replicas of what people on the outer walls of the prison use in their day-to-day life, showing off the extraordinary skill and imagination required to make these objects take on a new life, a new purpose. From shivs to ropes, brass knuckles and keys, Veuillet’s photographs teach us about a world that many of us have not, and most likely, will never experience. All shot on location, the photographs of Tools of Disobedience take you into a world where imagination and understanding are not just suggested, but required.
The Prison by Koto Bolofo, Steidl
Keeping in line with the prison-theme of this Library article, we turn our attention to the 2014 book The Prison by photographer Koto Bolofo. In 1992, two years after Nelson Mandela had been realised from prison, Bolofo and his wife moved back to his home country of South Africa and upon which they started to photograph and document the very same prison that Mandela had been held for the majority of his twenty-seven year sentence, Robben Island. Now abandoned, the couple’s black and white photographs of the building show close-up details of the once bustling prison, rather than general views. It was the objects, leftover items, fences, and holes in doors that grabbed their attention, as though they were capturing the DNA of the building, of the sweat and tears many men had she whilst cohabiting in their grim surroundings. A truly beautiful book that encourages the viewer to relish in the silence of a space that was once so un-silent.