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Artists at the Serlachius Residency in Finland implement a communitybased art project Lifeline with the prisoners of Vilppula Open Prison Dutch artist couple Iris Honderdos and Arno Peeters have been working on their community-based project since 1 September at the Serlachius Residency in Mänttä-Vilppula in Finland. Together with the prisoners of the near-by Vilppula Open Prison they have created the work Lifeline which will be first shown to the public on the yard of the open prison on October 29 at 5 pm.

For over 18 years, Iris Honderdos and Arno Peeters have been working in their own special way all over the world. They never know beforehand what they are going to create, but it always includes stories of each local community: miners in Czech Republic, protesters in Ukraine, HIV-affected women in Vietnam, students in Armenia or a tribe in Uganda. Iris Honderdos has specialised in photography, film and installations. Arno Peeters is a sound designer and a composer. Together they have made artworks, videos, performances and theatre: utilised art forms suited to the subject and the materials available as well as to their budget. In Mänttä-Vilppula they have visited the local newspaper, youth centre and asked the people they met in the streets for their opinion on positive and negative qualities of living in the town. They regard the Vilppula Open Prison as the most interesting site: no fences, barbed wire or bars. The prisoners are treated humanely, and they take their own of responsibility of things. So, the artist couple simply drove to the prison and asked if it was possible to work directly with the prisoners. This could be arranged quite quickly. Subsequently, Arno Peeters and Iris Honderdos have done some presentations in the prison and have invited the inmates to the Museum Gösta to take part in two Art Based Learning sessions. It is a method in which you can learn from art instead of about art and it can reveal answers to important questions in one’s own life. This very personal process requires no knowledge of art. The instructors were excited to see if this approach would resonate with the inmates, and based on their answers, it was a very interesting experience to them. After that, the artists have been searching and planning a suited art project that would represent the lives of the prisoners in a respectful and meaningful way. At present, several inmates are working with them on the final installation. It consists of seven three-meter-high birch trunks that the prisoners have cut by themselves from the woods on the prison ground. They decorate the trunks with their personal lifeline, reflected in a red rope aligned with steel bands marking the important moments in their lives. The trunks will be set up vertically in a circle and will be positioned near the greenhouse on the premises where the public area and the prison area meet.

The work will be presented to the public on 29 October at 5 pm. You are welcome to explore the artwork at the address Kotiniementie 67, Mänttä-Vilppula.