Amsterdam, autumn 1997

It was entirely by chance ? as most detainees would say ? that I ended up in the prison. In my case, I came to the Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen, in Vechta, Germany, in response to an invitation to exhibit some of my ?Lücke? sculptures there.

The German word ?Lücke? means void, and in this case stands for lack, loss, and absence. The ?Lücken? resemble man-sized wax vase shapes cast in a clay mould. Instead of exhibiting my sculptures, I invited twelve detainees and six guards to collaborate with me on each building their own ?Lücke?. These were photographed by Luuk Kramer in places that were in some way significant to the makers. After this, the Lücke Project toured Germany and the Netherlands and was exhibited in a number of public or semi-public institutions.

The project described above was inspired by a quotation from a letter written by the theologian and philosopher Dietrich Bonhoeffer while he was held captive in Berlin during the Second World War: ?Widerstand und Haft 1940 - 1945, Heiligabend 1943? [Resistance and imprisonment 1940 - 1945, Christmas eve 1943]
[?]nothing is capable of replacing an absent loved one, nor should one seek to find such a replacement; all one can do is to keep going and hold firm; that may initially sound very harsh, but it is in fact a great consolation; for in remaining unfilled, the vacuum sustains the bond. [?]

Ulrike Möntmann

90 x 110 x 45 cm
Material: wax. Place: Mother?s apartment
D ? Osnabrück

110 x 60 x 60 cm
Material: wax. Place: Isolation cell (bunker)
Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen D ? Vechta

60 x 90 x 40 cm
Material: wax. Place: Sick bay
Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen D ? Vechta

Text by Michael Daxner

Voids with a voice: On the exhibition of objects from Ulrike Möntmann?s Lücke project

It is precisely in the greatest extremity that freedom is indispensable. ?Getting out!? resounds with new beginnings, of finding oneself in the cold, hard air that generates distance from the stifling heat of the unchangeable. The long penetration of pain has formed a hollow space, a gap, many gaps, so that feelings and ideas become porous. Being torn there worsens the pain and does not transform it into grieving. We humans tolerate pain to a certain degree but must understand that we cope with pain only through grieving.

The void or Lücke left behind by someone or something is a form of grieving. It is a conscious perception of what is lacking. Imprisoned women lack freedom of movement; deprivation of freedom causes pain that envelopes the other, shapes the woman in her cell, impedes her ability to fathom the motives for her actions and prevents the future from approaching her in her entirety, surrounding her and enabling her to live on the other side of survival.

What is lacking?

Ulrike Möntmann wants to keep each void ? each Lücke ? open, not to seal it off. She knows that badly healed scars may hurt more and longer than an open wound: from which one wishes to escape ? into freedom, which also means taking part, imparting. ?This is me, and here is my void.? In her art, Möntmann always aims for accuracy, like a doctor trying to find the precise remedy to counter immobilisation in boundless despair. The gap is the encryption embodying the lost content, the hole ?with something around it?, with a name and a history that others observe in motives ? that others perceive as true, and that may or may not be true. Even putting this into words is difficult. But perhaps the concept may be presented to our gaze, as a tentative appropriation.

People ? not only women ? as vessels of pain are themselves a void. This symbolic form is unrelated to gender. ?I am not merely, but very fundamentally, what I lack?. All philosophy of hope arises from deprivation, from hunger, from absence.

In her work with the women from the Justiz-Vollzugs-Anstalt. Möntmann seeks to express the voids that women create, and that their prison sentences should not violate: resumption of grieving and thus the step from survival to life. By imposing prison sentences, the state enforces its rules on society?s behalf. Even if they are accepted, these rules are only the edge of what is lost: dignity, love, a person, a need, something that we do not know, or that we believe we know all too well.

The objects symbolise not the rules but what the rules overlook. They do not arrange for therapy to repress grief. They embody what is as yet amorphous and is only seeking to take shape. Looking at the form exhibited here does not enable us to draw any conclusions about the person behind it, but perhaps by explaining the unmistakable meaning f the work of art, we can approximate the self-explanation of the void: ?There I am, in there, over there, reflected in murky water. My fingers have revealed something in the wax and the model that must not be taken away.? The technique demands a concentration that will not be overtaxed by simply reflecting on the circumstances that led to becoming unfree.

Void: this is the armour against the idolatry of illusion, against the fatal ?some time? then I will do something, then I will become great.? People enter the project small, and gradually regain their human dimension by interacting with the edge of the void, the narrow bridge that remains between the abyss and the wall of numbness.


The project consists of several phases inside and outside the prison, the Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen, D-Vechta, to be conducted in collaboration with present or former detainees who are (or were) drug addicts; fashion designer Anneclaire Kersten (Amsterdam), photographer Luuk Kramer (Amsterdam).

Women in prison display a striking tendency towards vanity. Where pride and self-respect have long been broken, the needarises to ?smarten themselves up?; and they draw on every possible resource to do so: dying their hair ? a different colour every week ? piercings where possible, tattoos, jewellery galore, impressive shoes, preferably with platform soles.

The desire to enhance one?s appearance is a general human urge; in that sense, these women are no different from anyone else. The quest for one?s own image is a universal way of expressing individuality, whether in prison or elsewhere. But in a place where everyone is subjected to precisely the same treatment, where the rhythm of eating, drinking, working, sleeping and recreation follows a strict regime, where any individuality is more likely to arouse suspicion than admiration, the need to rebel against one?s surroundings is physically tangible.

In his ?Les chemins de la liberté? (The Roads to Freedom, 1945), Jean-Paul Sartre describes the determined and sustained efforts of a prisoner-of-war in an internment camp to look well-groomed. All around him he sees a general degeneration setting in, accompanied by an inexorable decline in moral awareness. The prisoner feels that a slovenly appearance would signify capitulation ? not only to his jailers but also to his own despair. [?]

Fragment from: DOREENKLETTJURK EN ANKMONKLETTBUNKER, Louise Schouwenberg, 2000
European Ceramic Work Centre (EKWC), ?s Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.
Production of four more than life-sized Procession Madonnas. As is customary in southern European countries, the madonna is bald and armless; here she has been endowed with the facial features of the detainee Cornelia Kneier, one of the particpants in the Lücke Project. In prison, the porcelain ?Kneiers? serve as tailor's dummies and to furnish the garments with a body.
Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen, D-Vechta
Production of a series of clothing-sculptures of (mainly) non-wearable garments, made from grey prison blankets. The Prison Clothes Collection will be exhibited at Amsterdam district court, among other places.

The detainees' efforts to adhere to the standards of 'normal life' contrast starkly with their life experience and expectations. Seven of the eight women participating in CGK/1 were released from this prison during 2001. I followed them during the period they subsequently spent in the outside world, in treatment centres and/or other prisons.

Enthusiasm for any useful or useless activity in prison is always zero. It does not matter whether the activity concerned is some mindless task in the plastics workshop (screwing rubber tips onto table legs, for instance) or learning how to model and glaze ashtrays during a well-intentioned pottery course. What does matter is that none of the activities, whether optional or compulsory, bear any relation to the detainees? own experience or needs.
PCC/3 / 2002 onwards
The Ministry of Justice, Hannover, D, Prison Work Department, grants my request to install the production of Prison Clothes Collection/II as a form of prison work.

Figs. CGK/I/2000
Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen, D-Vechta

Crocheted arms for Kneier 1 reach down to the ground.
Material: prison blankets. Place: Seilergang

Two shirts, attached. Material: outside Velcro, inside prison
blankets. Place: Isolation cell, left [bunker]

Dress, decorated with tattoos and piercings. Material: outside white woven. Tattoos made of black Velcro, piercings metal, covered with pink imitation leather. Inside pink imitation leather.
Place: D1

Dress for unborn baby. Material: Dress is made of silk, baby of gold imitation leather. Dark strips on dress made of prison blanket.
Place: door leading from the Seilergang to the inner courtyard

Sleeping-bag. Material: six smocked prison blankets shaped into a cylinder.
Place: Bed in isolation cell [Moonlight]

Some lives are grievable, and others are not; the differential allocation of grievability that decides what kind of subject is and must be grieved, and which kind of subject must not, operates to produce and maintain certain exclusionary conceptions of who is normatively human: what counts as a livable life and a grievable death? [Judith Butler: Precarious Life. The Politics of Mourning and Violence, 2004]

That delinquents appear to lead livable lives in present-day (Western) prisons ? in that they are supplied with food and a bed ? is construed by public opinion as a weakening of the effect of the sanction: the constitutional response to crime must appear to be a credible retaliatory measure.[Michel Foucault: Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison, 1975]

Since the gradual disappearance of corporal punishment, public penance, chastisement and torture, starting in the first half of the 19th century, there has been a constant struggle to address the ?painful? question of how to punish without tangible and visible physical force, right down to present-day debates on the modern administration of justice.

The answer to this question was formulated theoretically and very simply back in the 18th century [door G. De Mably: De la législation, ?uvres complètes, 1789] ?less gruesome actions, less suffering, greater charity, respect, greater ?humanity? lead to an adjustment in the objective of sanctions. That is to say, if the body may no longer be punished, then punishment must be meted out to the soul instead. If the administration of intolerable pain must not impinge on the body, an adequate replacement must be found that makes itself felt in the very depths of the heart, the mind, in a person?s will and talents.?

JUGEND WOHN ZIMMER [Youth Living Room]is the title of the art project in the juvenile wing of the women?s prison in Vechta, Germany. The project is a work in progress.
The artwork is made up of two parts, action on the one hand and installation on the other, which take shape alongside one another. The action consists of reading stories out loud and setting up a library. The installation consists of a transformation of existing elements of the living space combined with furniture designs that are tailored to the action, which together will make up an installation for reading or living. The objects for the installation are produced in collaboration with detainees in the prison workshops.
The work also serves two different objectives: the literature confronts the inmates with their own biographies, experiences and desires, while at the same time their surroundings are changing. This project can be compared to the slow build-up of tension in a narrative and the reader?s gradual identification with the protagonist and action. Parallel to this, the image of the person?s own (self-made) surroundings takes shape.

The image is speculative. In applying it, I look for forms, materials and techniques that can help to realize the design. The final image will be based on my proposal (my role being comparable to that of a director) combined with the vision of the participants, which is impossible to predict. The concept itself is based on my personal project experience with detainees.

The juvenile section of this prison houses about twelve girls and young women aged 14 to 20, from four provinces of northern Germany.
1, 2, 3
Juvenile wing of the Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen, Vechta, Germany. Cells for one or two female detainees. 2005

Steam engine for the prompt correction of young boys and girls; Institut National de Recherche Pédagogique, c. 1800. Illustration from Michel Foucault?s book surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison (1975).
The section is situated in the old wing of the prison (which was once a monastery) and occupies the entire second floor. A glass partition divides in two the immense corridor or hall (seven metres wide, five metres high and thirty metres long) to reduce conflict. One side ends in large windows, overlooking the small exercise yard, a few trees, the prison wall, and a limited section of the street beyond the wall. The other section of the hall has no natural light source, and is illuminated artificially by strip lighting.

There are six cells on each side, four for inmates and two for the prison guards to use as offices. In addition, each side has an area for communal activities such as watching TV, a semi-public telephone booth and a communal kitchen.

Each cell measures about 4 x 2.5 metres and houses one or two young women, depending on the total number of detainees. The inmates create their own ?teenage rooms? by hanging photos on the walls (within the restrictions imposed by the rules; in principle the wall space must be easy to inspect, which means that it must either be blank or easy to clear), a wooden bed (specially for juveniles; the other inmates have steel beds), and if there is enough space, a bedside table in between the beds. Each inmate is allowed one cuddly toy. For the rest, the cell contains a washbasin and a toilet, both of which are always within the guards? view.

The hall serves as the inmates? living space. It is currently fitted out with a sofa and armchairs in imitation Altdeutsch style on a beige marmoleum floor that is kept scrupulously clean. The detainees tend to sprawl here like sacks of potatoes in the shabby living-room setting with oak side-tables on which they rest their feet, clad in giant Buffalo shoes with huge platform soles. It is a place for talking and laughter. On the surface, you might take gatherings of this kind for social events, but the inmates are not relaxed and the atmosphere is anything but friendly. The inmates do not talk to each other, they shout at each other; they don?t ask questions, they presume and mock, curse and issue orders, insult and intimidate: the harshness and stress of life in prison constitute a self-fulfilling, vicious circle of worthlessness, an existence made up of failure and disappointment.

Enthusiasm regarding any activity in prison, however useful or useless it may be, is generally non-existent in prison. It does not matter whether the inmates are set to work doing mindless tasks in the Plastics section, for instance (such as putting rubber tips onto table-legs) or if they are receiving well-intentioned instruction on modelling and glazing ashtrays as part of a pottery course. It does matter, however, that not one of the compulsory or optional activities on offer has anything to do with the inmates? own experiences or their needs. This applies to all detainees, and most especially to the difficult girls and young women in the juvenile wing. This makes it appear during the period of detention that the existing or anticipated drug addiction is the only specific activity in which the intimacy of a familiar pattern and hence the confirmation of a shared experience can be guaranteed.

The execution of each of my prison projects is based on a ?deal? with the detainees. This highly suspicious group of people will run a mile from any educational or therapeutic plans devised in the name of optimistic help and support, and from any attempt to gloss over or brighten up their miserable lives. In my approach, I show the detainees my work as an artist and ask them to become part of my artwork, my outcast registration. The invitation to cooperate is totally straightforward: for every new project I am dependent on their cooperation, their own views of their lives. I suspect that junkies living in detention see the uselessness of art as rather comparable to the unproductive aspect of drug use, with the option of getting a kick that will temporarily allow them to step outside the oppressive predictability of their situation.
Woodcut of Ludwigsburg Tower, in the Black Forest, Germany. The Brothers Grimm identified this as the original tower of the fairy-tale Rapunzel.because of the specific plants growing in the area. Rapunzel (Radix pontica) ) is a small plant with a thick edible root that is equated with the apple in the Garden of Eden. According to fairy-tale interpreters, living in a turret symbolizes the discovery of thought. The distinctive feature of this fairy-tale is that it accords an active role to women, while men take on the passive role of victims.

The Tower, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592). Montaigne teaches us to see human beings as changeable creatures who are incapable of ever discovering truth. As slaves of their habits and prejudices, egocentricity and fanaticism, they are victims of circumstances. Montaigne includes himself in this harsh judgment; indeed he applies it primarily to himself. Above his own reflections on life, he writes: ?I do not teach, I tell?. Montaigne lived in isolation in his castle tower for years, writing his Essays (=attempts). His idea of ?vivre à propos? (living life as it should be lived) was reflected in the late 20th-century Real Life school of art [see also Wilhelm Schmid: Ethik der Selbsterfindung. Über produktive Widersprüche bei Montaigne. Kunstforum International, 1999, no. 143]
6, 7
Still from the film Trainspotting by Danny Boyle, 1996, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh.
The book and film tell the story of a young vandal, a drug addict who tries to kick the habit and get away from his ?bad? friends. The film features sex, violence, drugs and coarse language, but none of this is glorified. ?Train-spotting?, though originally referring to the hobby of noting train numbers, has come to mean any dreary activity undertaken to help to pass time.

Woodcut by Ludwig Richter, Snow White, Snow White / Unlucky child.
The narrative begins in the manner of a winter fairy-tale. Life is divided into stages of birth, trial, death and revival after death. The mirror on the wall, which is capable of revealing who is the fairest in the land, derives from the magic mirror known since antiquity as a means of predicting how life will unfold. The number seven (i.e. the seven dwarfs) is in part an allusion to the seven cardinal virtues and the seven deadly sins.
The redesigning of the corridor is geared towards giving inmates greater freedom of movement and more physical comfort. The inmates? lives, up to and including their stay in prison, have been an accumulation of events in which their demands for attention have been ignored. From their perspective, attention is a phantom vision of being unharmed in middle-class surroundings, of what life would look like if you did not have to live in this situation, and most especially the desire that everything will turn out well in the end; faithful to the fairy-tale genre and unrealistic. But cherishing a legend is something that none of them has ever experienced; none of them knows the intimacy of being read to, which can help to affirm one?s experience of the world
The literary action is the part of the project relating to the imagination. From the very beginning of the project, one of my main focal points is on telling stories, listening, and endless repetition. I am convinced that I can reach the girls with fairy-tales, from Snow White to the heroin-injecting Psycho Begbie and the 14-year-old Diane in Trainspotting, that is to say, ranging from a princess?s dream to a nightmare. My other focus is on creating the installation in the interior of the two-part hall; my ideas about the interior are a continuation of the narrative in a three-dimensional context.
All the designs are made in the prison?s own professionally equipped workshops (wood, metals, textiles). Various types of craftsmanship are used in the making of each object, sometimes applied in a spectacular way, such as the construction of a knitting spool with a diameter of 1.20 metres and the knitting of 2-cm-wide prison blanket strips as covers for the sofas. Upholstering with imitation leather, making felt bean-bag seats and sewing futons are techniques that are easy to learn.
The two hall spaces both function autonomously: the glass partition makes it possible to combine the two areas visually. The spaces will be furnished with flexible standard items of furniture, such as tables and chairs for working at, comfortable chairs for lounging in, reading and telling stories, and a library on each side which will be expanded on a regular basis. The only fixed object will be the bookcase; all other objects will be mounted on heavy wheels to make them movable.
The design of the two spaces will be harmonised; the use of colour and shapes in the front section, with its large windows, will be restrained. The area for ?hanging out? consists of long, rectangular sofas (three elements, each measuring one metre in width and two metres in length) that can be combined in different ways. Their upholstery is based on the futon technique, which involves combining and stitching pieces of cotton fabric. For the armrests, we are sewing heavy, moveable boomerang-shaped cushions. All the seats are to be covered with the (much-loathed) grey prison blankets. As a whole, the result is suitable for the construction of anything from a hut to a smart design lounge suite. 8
Sofa, 400cm x 100cm. Wood, futon, prison blankets. 1998
Boomerang cushions, 100cm x 50cm. Prison blankets, heavy stuffing. 1998
Cover, 600cm x 100cm. Prison blankets, made with spool knitting, Ø100cm. 2000
All objects by U.M. The images serve as examples for the chosen form and style of the installation on the front side of the living hall.
In the rear section of the hall, a number of architectural changes will be made before the interior is furnished, the aim being to create a source of daylight, however small. For the rest, this gloomy area will be turned into a extraordinary space mid-way between a UFO and a princess?s room. The basis colours will be pink, yellow, light blue (in some parts maybe metallic); the basic materials will be real and imitation leather and fine wool, woven or felted. The hanging-around space will consist of eight poufs on wheels, resembling beanbag-chairs, which combine to make a wide circle (4 metres in diameter) but which will also provide comfort and warmth in other arrangements, and each one of which can be used as a riding throne.
The walls will be covered with luminous imitation leather panels.
Installation, leather sofas, strip lighting, elements made of synthetic materials, 1996, Bastienne Kramer.
The image serves as an example of the choice of form and style in the rear section of the hall.
The existing furnishings of the living area (in imitation Altdeutsch) on both sides of the hall will be dismantled and reassembled into a new piece of furniture that will be the ideal object on which to laze about. The wooden elements will have texts that are meaningful to the inmates carved into them. 10
Living hall in the juvenile section of the prison
The chairs and the tables for one or two people are functional in terms of design, material and colour. The tables can be pushed together to make one large surface or set up as separate workplaces, either for individual activities or for workshops, for instance in relation to a piece of literature or a film.

Besides the basic interiors I am designing for the living spaces, I want to change the TV-area into a mini-cinema in which films can be shown that relate to the literature. The section?s new internal archives will also be built up here. The computer areas will be integrated into the hall?s new interior; my aim is to ?mobilize? the equipment so that it also serves a function within the living space.
Butterfly chair, 125cm x 90cm x 80cm. Design from 1938, upholstered with prison blanket, U.M.,1998
The concept for JUGEND WOHN ZIMMER was developed in response to a request by the prison governors, after the ?Prison Clothes Collection? project in 2001. The concept and the plans for its implementation met with an enthusiastic response from staff of the juvenile section, the governors, the Ministry of Justice in Lower Saxony, the Judicial Council for Prison Employment and the Monastic Council. For purchases of books and DVDs, retail stores with interest in the project in Lower Saxony pledged their advice and sponsorship.

Happy Together is a sequence of full color posters, which shows a person standing next to a flower-box in public spaces of Amsterdam.
Unusual is the arranging of the subjects; the persons don?t belong to those places, they are taken from the border of society, heavy drugs using people, junkies.
Standing next to sculptural geranium-boxes, which seem to move like a floral procession from south to north of Europe.
Happy Together are faces of a city in Europe.

Poster and Photos D/NL 2002
According to the theme of the exposition No I.D, Bombay/India
Cooperation with Bastienne Kramer, Amsterdam/Netherlands



The title THIS BABY DOLL WILL BE A JUNKIE suggests that addiction is a matter of destiny; an ominous prediction about a new human life. The title contradicts the idea of the autonomy of the individual, based on equal opportunities, and conflicts with the right to physical and mental self-determination.

The image contradicts the prevailing view of the causes of addiction. The general public claims the right, based on the principle of self-determination, to collectively attribute blame: it assumes that addiction arises from a lack of will-power and holds the addict totally responsible for the consequences of addiction. The main way in which female addicts differ from their male counterparts is in their unquestioning acceptance of this reading; they accept blame for their own addiction.

THIS BABY DOLL WILL BE A JUNKIE is a collection of observations by junkies, which are very seldom heard, on the circumstances of their lives before and after the beginning of their addiction: An audiovisual portrait of women drug addicts living in Europe. The artwork consists of several series of identical dolls that narrate decisive events in the life of a drug addict. Each series represents a single biography.

pop groot
The dolls are porcelain casts of dolls used traditionally as toys, with moveable arms and legs. Printed on each doll?s face is a portrait photo of an addict, so that the facial expression of the baby doll merges into that of an adult.
When the doll is picked up, it relates a significant event in the addict?s life, through a built-in speaker. The sound is transmitted through a perforated text on the doll?s back, which gives the addict?s name and date of birth, and in some cases the date of her death.


At age 10 I start drinking

The series will be installed in the public space, in places frequented by addicts, and then abandoned to the public without any form of control. Each doll has a wrist label giving the title of the artwork and a link to http//:www.thisbabydollwillbeajunkie.com

The literal reference of the Food Sluice is to a way of channelling food. Following the principle of a sluice, the flow of food between two spaces is regulated, without there ever being a direct, open connection between these spaces.
The total area consists of three sections: dining-room, kitchen and a central space in between the two. The dining-room is accessible to the public, the kitchen is accessible to staff, and the central, linking space is used for the conveyance of meals.
The Food Sluice symbolises diverse, irreconcilable sections of society within a particular community.

A sluice divides a space in two, in this case separating the dining-room off from the kitchen. It is a compact space, divided into illuminated cells with entrances on both sides that can be closed off. The cell doors bear codes corresponding to those issued to the diner with his or her order. As usual with a sluice, the doors open temporarily in one direction only.
The restaurant is furnished in contemporary style and is perfectly equipped for a superior location. There are no staff in the dining-room. Clients order and pay for their meals electronically; they do so using a machine installed in the restaurant, entering specific codes and collecting the corresponding meals from the sluice. The dining-room is transparent, so that passers-by can see the diners from the street. The range and quality of the meals on the menu are excellent, while prices are significantly lower than those in other restaurants of a comparable standard.
The rear area is divided into an operating system and a kitchen. The operating system mediates between clients and their host; this is where orders are received and processed.
The staff cannot be seen from the dining-room; the space is constructed such as to prevent any contact between clients and staff. The personnel consists of a rotating team of chefs and an auxiliary staff.
Access to the kitchen is solely through a separate staff entrance. The dining-room is unlike ordinary restaurants in that the usual code of conduct within the culture of dining does not apply; the usual identification of clients with their host, and vice versa, is entirely absent. In spite of this, the style and ambience of the dining-room meet the demands and expectations of a broad, culturally savvy, section of the Dutch population.
The visitors to the Food Sluice are restaurant clients with an interest in the prevailing culture of dining out, who like to combine social and business engagements with having an enjoyable meal in pleasant surroundings.
The 'host' in the Food Sluice is a section of the population that is generally excluded from mainstream society. Groups of detainees and ex-detainees, addicts and former addicts, prepare the meals under the supervision of a team of chefs.

In an open letter responding to Heidegger?s definition of humanism, the German thinker Peter Sloterdijk narrows down the question of human existence to one of place: what counts is not what a human being is, but where he is: namely, in the world, or more precisely, in a ?human park?1. That each and every person must necessarily be located somewhere implies that existence is bound up with real estate.

At first sight, the Food Sluice seems to resemble the principle of coin-operated fast food walls that dispense sausages day and night beside Formule 1 hotels along the French highways, or the sleeping-compartments in overcrowded Japanese cities, where people obtain bed and breakfast by credit card payment, without meeting any staff. Such overnight stays and meals dispensed by a machine are based on the idea of providing programmed anonymity in lieu of personal care.
In this theatrical setting, the fast food machine, once invented to release people from jobs that involved demeaning drudgery, plays the role of interlocutor; like the imaginary opponent in an online computer game, it supplies the dialogue, as it were, between service provider and recipient.

The temptation to confirm the world of one?s experience by drawing comparisons with oneself is seen as generally acceptable. That explains why, however large the ?people?s park? may be, those inhabiting the sunny flowerbeds will always maintain, when approached by an unequal specimen of fellow humanity, that there is unfortunately no room left in their bit of the park.
Sloterdijk blames this rejection on the rules attached to Western people's parks?; on life in a comfort zone. Although the comfort zone is surrounded by a turbulent sea of poverty, the turbulence that is perceived lies beyond our borders. In the tamed world of society?s consumers, calm conditions prevail ? so calm, in fact, as to generate both stress and boredom. These two underlying tones of existence produce a mood of chronic ambivalence, in which alarm alternates with reassurance.
The state of stress and alarm is smoothed out with methods derived from psychology and psychiatry, which explains the enormous growth in its general prevalence and acceptance. Boredom is fended off using various forms of Excitement, ranging from jumping from cranes while attached to strong rubber bands to journeys to exotic destinations. An ill-defined urge to break out of a cocooned bourgeois existence underlies the large-scale demand to see the strange and unfamiliar, the wild and exotic: to stare at the bearded lady, at negroes, animals, exotic individuals or creatures, gypsies, gays, junkies, teenage mothers and undocumented aliens, to stare at suffering, at poverty. The aim is not actually to see or experience the essence of these exotic beings, since that would give rise to a connection, a sense of shared community. The aim is rather to obtain confirmation of your own sense of who and what you are. To achieve this, people are willing to go to specific places such as the circus or the zoo, slums, remote islands, the red-light district. They can indulge in a collective shudder and then return home, reassured by the knowledge that they do not have to be or live like that.
Conversely, outsiders too have a certain desire. Whether or not one they have chosen to live as an outsider, there is a longing to be admitted to the comfort zone. Some people go so far as to place their lives in jeopardy by putting out to sea in rickety old boats, and accept the prospect of being branded ?undocumented?. Or in the case of junkies, there is a clash between a person?s actual life as ?trash? and a desire for an unknown, bourgeois existence. Impelled by a vision of this other life, junkies sometimes fantasise about what their lives will look like when they have finally finished therapy, or after their release from prison built in the style of a modern housing project, which is intended to help inmates practise living in the community within secure surroundings. Past experience has demonstrated that imitation and artificially imposed bourgeois life-styles lead neither to normal lives nor to a self-confidence based on independence. The effort of following the standards of ?normal life? makes a stark contrast with their life experience and realistic expectations.
For instance, the attempt in Amsterdam to start up a café run by heroin prostitutes who wanted to leave the business was doomed to failure, because the one-sided revelation of personal injury led to the kind of morbid curiosity that has been described above. Hannah Arendt believes, on the other hand, that it is possible, through openness and potential connection, to make the essence of human action amenable to experience. She asserts that the juxtaposition of equality and diversity ? whatever the difference of positioning and disparate attitudes ? points to a shared world. [We possess] the ability to see ourselves while we see the world, in a remarkable, cross-linked pattern of inside and outside, and thus to experience a sense of unity in spite of our isolated lives2. Perhaps it is precisely public invisibility that holds out the potential of connection with someone or something. You might compare it to the need to tell fairy-tales instead of seeing them: Snow White remains the most beautiful in the land for all eternity, as long as no one suddenly comes upon her when she has grown old, and finds out that she is actually quite fat.

The food sluice is par excellence the place where human desires are represented while individual differences and status remain ?out of sight?. People are neatly separated by a buffer, in the form of a sluice. One group can take their places at an exquisitely laid table (though they lay it themselves, for a change), just as they are accustomed to doing, while the other group remains hidden in the kitchen. The desires of both groups, voyeurism and imitation, are fulfilled: the clients are satisfied by being able to eat in luxury, while the workers are satisfied by having the luxury of legitimate presence as members of staff. In the food sluice, people ?knock on two doors? and both are opened selectively, since it is clear who has to be where.
What is the advantage of the Food Sluice? None at all. The space constructed for the Food Sluice is a staged setting, a simulation of present-day social structures and ideas. Simulation is precisely that irresistible process in which things are interwoven such as to create an impression of meaningfulness, while in fact they are organised only by artificial montage and non-sense3.
The Food Sluice is a hyper-realisation of reality, which resists all meaningful interpretation or solution.

1 Peter Sloterdijk: Regeln für den Menschenpark. Ein Antwortschreiben zu Heideggers Brief über den Humanismus, 1999
2 Hannah Arendt: o.a. Politiek in donkere tijden. Essays about freedom and friendship. Essays over vrijheid en vriendschap.
3 J.Baudrillard: Simulationsmodell / Die Illusion des Endes oder der Streik der Ergebnisse, Berlin 1994.

COLOPHON Concept / Realization
Ulrike Möntmann, Amsterdam, NL

Bastienne Kramer, Amsterdam, NL

Technical Adviser Ceramics
Matthias Keller, ’s Hertogenbosch, NL
Technical Assistance | Audio-Installation
Nick Snaas, Zeist,NL
Kees Reedijk, Amsterdam, NL
Peter Bogers, Amsterdam, NL
Tom Bachmann, Amsterdam, NL
Salan Zijlstra, Rotterdam, NL

Anneclaire Kerstens
Kouri Yorigami
Veronika Beckh
Clara Moranta
Lucia Luptakova
Jolanda Visser

Rebecca Mertens, Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen, Vechta, D
Angela Kaspers-Köhler, LÜSA, Unna, D
(voice biography Karin Pausch)
Weronika Mazur, Hildesheim, D
Louise van der Laan, Bunschoten, NL
Tessa de Vries, Driebergen, NL
Hester van de Beuken, Driebergen, NL
Renske Westra, Driebergen, NL

Luuk Kramer, Amsterdam, NL
Jeroen Alberts, Amsterdam NL
Linda Marie Schulhof, Münster, D
Roland Lutz, Unna, D

Translation | Lecturing
Beverley Jackson, Amsterdam, NL
renée c. hoogland, Amsterdam, NL
Linda Marie Schulhof, Münster, D
Rolf Möntmann, Osnabrück, D
Jolanda Visser, Rotterdam, NL
Sjoerdtsje Willemsma, Friesland, NL
Lies de Wolf, Amsterdam, NL

Design | Concept Website
Yvonne van Versendaal, Amsterdam, NL
Programing Website
Romain Preston, Paris, FR

Drawing Eetsluis
Lucas Lenglet, Berlijn, D

ARTA Lievegoedgroep
Ambulante Verslavingszorg, Zeist, NL
Hans Kassens
Jacques Michael Abas
Ministery of Justice
G.M. Hoeymakers
PIV, Ter Peel, NL

Drugs User Association
Willemijn Los, Amsterdam, NL

Long Term Transition and Support Program
Ana Dias de Oliveira, Unna D
AIDS Aid Unna, Unna D

Drug assistance for non-resident European Citizen
Ingeborg Schlusemann, Amsterdam, NL

Justizanstalt für Frauen | Niedersachsen Women’s

Participating Organisations
Fonds BKVB, NL
Gemeente Amsterdam, NL
Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdam, NL
mama cash, amsterdam

My projects focus on social processes in extreme situations. The working method has gradually taken on the form of a permanent collaboration with junkies ? both in prison, in therapeutic situations, and in everyday settings. The autonomous images, photographs, texts and actions that have arisen from this collaboration serve to record what it means to live as an outcast in Western European society.

One project naturally leads to another through the logic of the subject-matter. The result of each project is self-contained, while at the same time constituting a phase in an ongoing whole. The image develops in accordance with my expanding field of action. From the centre of the most isolated living space imaginable, I move ? backwards, as it were ? towards the open space and the public domain.