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© Jordis Antonia Schlösser, from the series ‘City Behind Walls’

Without exception, the authorities of every prison I’ve visited have described their complex as its own contained city.

For German photographer, Jordis Antonia Schlösser the self-sufficiency and the false independence it imposed on Moabit prison, Berlin was her abiding impression:

“For me the prison is a city within the city. There are many of the same things inside that exist outside. There are workshops – gardening, tailoring, carpentry. There are services – a kitchen, a post office, a bank, a barber. What is lacking is entertainment – like cinemas, theaters, or concerts – but the inmates replace this with television, which almost all of them have in their cells, just like people on the outside in their apartments. I was surprised how similar the trappings of freedom and captivity look.”

Moabit prison is a pre-trial detention center for men. Here’s the 30 image essay. This is one of the better, less hurried and quieter photo studies of prison life I’ve come across.

Arbeit Arbeit Arbeit” written on the blackboard behind the cloth-cutting prisoner, is an anachronistic visual detail that sent my mind of in all directions. Its inclusion must have been deliberate.

© Jordis Antonia Schlösser, from the series ‘City Behind Walls’

© Jordis Antonia Schlösser, from the series ‘City Behind Walls’

© Jordis Antonia Schlösser, from the series ‘City Behind Walls’

Jordis Antonia Schlösser

Jordis Antonia Schlösser (b. 1967, Goettingen) studied sociology and ethnology at the University of Cologne (1987-1988) and photography design under Prof. Arno Fischer at the technical college in Dortmund (1988-1996). She has been a member of OSTKREUZ since 1997. Schlösser lives in Berlin and Paris.

Her publications include GEO, GEO Spezial, Stern, National Geographic, DU, Merian, Spiegel, Lufthansa Magazin, Brigitte, High Life (British Airways Magazine), NZZ am Sonntag, Granta Magazine, Corriere della Sera Magazine, Marie Claire (It.), El Pais Semanal, et al.

Schlösser is the recipient of the Hansel-Mieth-Prize for ‘Before disappearance – Report from the Lower Rhine brown coal belt’ (2002); 2nd prize of the World Press Photo Award in the ‘Arts’ category (2001); 1st prize at the International Yann Geoffroy Competition for ‘Living on the dump’ (2000); DAAD Scholarship for the continuance of the work ‘Havanna between the times’ (1999); Honorable mention ‘Grand Prix Care International du Reportage Humanitaire’ (1999); Admission to the World Press Joop Swart Masterclass; Special prize at the UNESCO Courier/Nikon competition ‘Peace in everyday Life’ for ‘Havanna between the times’ (1998)


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