Ullersmo Prison and Eidsberg Prison

Liv Bugge asked inmates in two prisons to help her find and preserve traces left by former inmates. She has also installed walls heated to human skin temperature in the prison exercise yards.

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Velg transporttype:
  • Ullersmo fengsel. Photographer: Statsbygg
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About the project

About the project

Prison buildings are constructed from very hard and robust materials. The buildings’ purpose is to segregate the inmates from the rest of the population. They are not buildings that invite their occupants to leave personal marks on their surroundings. Even so, prison buildings bear numerous minute traces of previous inhabitants. This was the starting point for Liv Bugge’s art project at Ullersmo Prison in Akershus and Eidsberg Prison in Østfold.

Over 60 languages are spoken in Norwegian prisons. Accordingly it was important to find a means of artistic expression that was independent of written or spoken language, but which still managed to communicate something about shared experience. The resulting art project is titled To accept theirs, to make it mine, to wish it for myself and was conducted partly in the form of workshops run for small groups of inmates at each prison.

The first step was for the groups to seek out physical traces of former inmates: scratches on the walls, and worn or vandalized surfaces. All such marks have something to tell us about the experiences of people who have served time in prison. Bugge took impressions from the marked surfaces and cast them in bronze. The use of bronze gives the marks value, while at the same time the abstract nature of the castings encourages one to reflect in words on their essential meaning.

Bugge chose to give the bronze castings a matte patina. If the bronzes are touched by many people, their surfaces will gradually become shiny. Through this process, the bronzes will come to represent not only traces of previous inmates, but also evidence the touch of new hands.

As part of the same project, Bugge has erected a heated wall in the exercise yard at each prison. The walls have the same surface temperature as that of human skin: 34 degrees Celsius. There is nothing in either wall’s appearance to indicate that it is warm, but if you lean against it, you have a sensation of the wall returning your contact, as though another person were leaning against you. Two to three people can lean against the wall at the same time and experience a sensation of shared warmth without actually making contact.



Scheduled completion



Elin Maria Olaussen
Karen Christine Tandberg


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