galerie weisser elefant Berlin, Germany „Chapters of Violence“, 17.02.2023 –
The experimental documentary „Saratov“ and the video installation „Tatort (crime scene) Saratov“ both investigate the events in the Russian Saratov tuberculosis prison hospital, which came to light in the autumn of 2021. Prisoners were sexually abused and tortured for years, and filmed so that they could later be blackmailed with the footage.
(TATORT) SARATOV, ongoing documentary film project and video installation, 2022-2023
Single screen film:
30 min, 4K, stereo audio
Red Hydrogen smartphone & tripod, blue flashing light, adhesive tape and barrier tape, theatre blood, aluminium pole, knife, walking stick, softair pistol, battle axe
Courtesy: Patrick Alan Banfield
In November 2021, the Russian NGO gulagu.net released gruesome footage showing rape scenes in a Russian prison with pixellated faces. Male prisoners are seen masturbating, kissing and being anally assaulted with a broomstick by their guards or other inmates. Russia’s FSB and Federal Prison Service systematically have male prisoners sexually abused in order to later use the footage to blackmail them into obedience and submission. Former prisoner Sergei Savelyev smuggled the pictures out of the Saratov prison hospital to prove the cruel practices. The Kremlin and the FSB quickly responded to these images by releasing the original – unpixilised – videos, using obfuscation, propaganda and framing techniques such as spin doctoring.
‘Saratov‘ thus addresses a taboo: the treatment of male rape and its social and political reception, interpretation and exploitation in contemporary Russia, where a traditional and conservative image of masculinity prevails. The leaked images from Russia’s Saratov Prison and Epidemic Hospital are forensically examined, and victims and NGO editors have been interviewed. The reactions of Russian domestic politics and intelligence agencies to the cases are also examined.
„Abgründig und doppelbödig: die Ausstellung Chapters of Violence“ on Kultur Mitte Magazin
„Patrick Alan Banfield, Tatort. Chapters of Violence Opening. Photographer: Stefan Hobmaier“ on galerie weisser elefant
The two-person exhibition (together with Veronika Dräxler) deals with the concept of ‚healing‘ as a metaphor for individual and collective transformation processes. The focus is on the transformation of toxicity into synergy. How can intersubjective principles that programme social power structures be overcome? In the exhibition „Chapters of Violence“, personal experiences of trauma are placed in relation to inherent social conventions and hierarchies. „Chapters of Violence“ is a snapshot of the attempt to at least make visible the collective traumas that led to the construction of the same institutional framework within which the exhibition itself takes place. At the same time the individual artistic contributions examine the inherent ambivalence of the symptoms of social trauma: What is the relationship between toxic masculinity and softness and vulnerability? At whose expense can a healing process take place and who „pays“ for it – in both an economic and an emotional sense? Is the need for healing is the need for healing in itself an encroachment through the asserted implication of a wound that must be healed?
Text by curator Marcus Boxler