In Briney Anne Majure’s photo series, Fengsel, she photographs Norwegian prisons. In her artist statement, she talks about the differences between prisons in Norway and those in the US or UK:
You can find superfluous amounts of articles showing how cushy and attractive Norwegian prisons are, and the American media often portrays them as ‘vacation spots’ or ‘summer camps’. Some say this system is spoiling, and others say Norwegians might simply be more hopeful than other societies. And figures show they are onto something here. The country boasts a prisoner return rate of 20%, whereas the US and UK have return rates of 50% to 60%. And despite the beautiful aesthetics, small forests, and professional and educational opportunities, these people are still behind a wall [or on an island] and far away from their friends and families. In my inmate interview sessions, almost all are apologetic for their crimes and say the worst punishment is isolation from their homes and society.
Majure emphasizes that–despite the US typically making fun of Norwegian prisons for not being “tough” enough–the true punishment that all prisons are meant to provide is isolation. This comes off in her photographs, where often some kind of dividing structure is present: a fence; a tall, concrete facility; railings, nets, walls, and even windows. All of the images are beautiful–some showing how elegantly designed and pleasant the structures of the prisons are, like the one of the windows along the wall or even some of the colorful outdoor shots. But in all of theses there is a sense of isolation and loneliness. In them there are ever-present, looming structures that are either boxing you in or cutting you off from seeing further into the world of these photographs.