Smart Prisons: Tracking, Monitoring & Control
The 29th conference of the Disruption Network Lab at Kunstquartier Bethanien investigates systems of surveillance around prisons, detention centres and borders, and the effects of technological violence and discrimination directed at migrants, activists, and dissidents in Europe and worldwide.
SMART PRISONS looks at how specific targets, whether prisoners, migrants at borders, or dissidents, have been progressively marginalised, trapped inside prison facilities, detention centres, or within systems of automatised control, being labeled as threats or suspects, due to intersectional biases or critical political activity. The concept of “smart” should not be interpreted as purely technological, but as an integrated system of tracking, monitoring and control, encompassing bureaucracy, power, psychology and propaganda, accelerated by technology over the last decades. While automatised discrimination and human rights violations of “unwanted” people is already a fact, this conference also aims to propose possible solutions and future developments in the field of counter-surveillance, civic technologies and grassroots investigations.
As part of the panel Constellations of Offshore Detention, Sean Vegezzi’s video work will be brought in conceptual dialogue with artist Adnan Softić, who lived in a floating "accommodation barge" – the Bibby Challenge, a cross between a cruise ship and container ship – set up by German authorities on the river Elbe in Hamburg to accommodate refugees fleeing the Bosnian War. These mobile housing units can be easily used when required, dismantled without leaving a trace or easily relocated. In their artistic work, of which a video excerpt will be shown, Adnan Softić and Nina Sofitć engage with the phenomenon of extraterritoriality. The well-known dichotomy “refugees and water” appears in a new form, and the interest of the state becomes visible to maintain the invisible condition of the refugees.
24 - 26 March 2023