Churches, chapels, gardens, machine-shops, embroidery class, theatre, music shows, news room: not the usual spaces or activities one thinks of when considering prisons.

Adi Tudose went out of his way – and went to four Romanian prisons (Craiova Prison; Bucharest-Rahova Prison; Bucharest-Jilava Prison; Giurgiu Prison) – to document the men engaged in what we can presume are edifying activities.

The title is Prisons of Romania, not “some prisons” or “worthwhile prisons”, but the prisons of the nation. To me, the title “Prisons of Romania” infers that Tudose wants these images of self-improvement and – dare I say it – redemption, to be the dominant visual of incarceration in Romania. Tudose may want to show that all is not lost and that there is even space in prisons for initiative. This might be over-reading the images on my part, or if I am close to guessing the Tudose’s motivations, it could as easily be propaganda on his part?

I mainly wanted to share these images because after interviewing Ioana Cârlig, I realised I knew nothing about Romania or the photo communities therein. I’ve since submitted follow-up questions to Ioana about the life of a young photographer in Eastern Europe. In the meantime, we can meditate on Tudose’s images.

Tudose visited the four prisons between August and October of 2011.