no prison - carceri d'invenzione

In May 2016 I suddenly received a request for a contribution to a book inspired by the No Prison manifesto. This manifesto had been written a few years earlier by Massimo Pavarini, professor in criminal law, and Italian journalist Livio Ferrari. You can find the text in several other languages on the website

Contributors to the volume included among others Johannes Feest, Hedda Giertsen, Thomas Mathiesen, Vincenzo Ruggiero and Sebastian Scheerer, so I was quite flattered. I wrote an article inspired by the eighteenth century etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Carceri d’invenzione. Publication of the book was expected at the end of 2017.

Later I got an email from editor Johannes Feest, stating that “we all think that your paper is great and should be published asap. At the same time, we feel that it does not really fit in our context, which is strictly abolitionist.”

Based on the English text, I also wrote a Dutch version. That was published in May 2017 by the Belgian monthly magazine Streven – cultureel maatschappelijk maandblad as ‘Carceri d’invenzione, een actuele metafoor’, included here with kind permission of the publisher.

Between 1745 and 1761 Giovanni Battista Piranesi made a series of etchings depicting imaginary prisons. He called them Carceri d’invenzione. Very soon these drawings gave rise to multiple metaphorical, historically or psychologically tinted interpretations. At the end of the twentieth century they inspired British composer Brian Ferneyhough to the writing of a music cycle with the same title. Then again, you can read his interpretation of Piranesi’s work as a metaphor for the complexity of the actual prison system and as an incentive to listen to all the sounds, human and non-human, that still come together in jail.

As far as I know, the ‘No Prison Volume’ has never been published. So here is my article, Carceri d’invenzione as metaphor’, slightly reviewed January 2019.