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  • Foto van schrijverMathias Vanthienen

Chilling with thugs

Here's a post about a lil' project I haven't really talked about to a lot of people. A few months ago some social work students from Thomas Moore approached me with the question if I wanted to draw a few cartoons for their project. I usually don't easily say yes to unpaid work but one of the perks of this project was that they were going to let me chill with inmates in prison 😎. As I'm all about the thug life (jk, I shit my pants every time I get stopped by the police), I hopped on board.

The setup of the project: In a few sessions we would philosophize with inmates on a few philosophical statements from which I then had to synthesize 5-10 drawings, which would then be exhibited at a cultural centre. The goal was to show people from outside that criminals are people too. In the end I could only join the first session. I missed the second session because of my own horrible time management on a freelance project and all the other sessions were cancelled due to the 'rona, RIP. The project is still ongoing but it's mostly happening via letter exchange and the material to get inspiration from is a bit smaller than would be in the original setup. So in the end there will probably be a few less drawings because I haven't come up with a lot of cool and smart stuff.

So far I can only show you 3 drawings I did. They're not done with my usual brutal & sassy tone because the content needed to be a bit more family friendly heheh.

The first statement was "Are we ever really free?" on which some of the inmates replied that the law is sort of a prison in itself.

Another statement I found interesting was "do we control our mind or does our mind control us?". I strongly believe that there is no free will (which obviously doesn't mean that you should now start raping and pillaging, it doesn't work like that). Every time this discussion is started, I'm all game heheh. In a crime context this could mean that you grow up in a shitty abusive situation where you are pushed to desperate measures (for example stealing to survive). Or that, because of that situation, you didn't really develop a lot of empathy. You didn't really choose the genes you were born with or the environment you were raised in, so do you choose anything at all? Because those 2 things define who you are.

The last one I did was just a goofy one about the whole corona situation and how it must suck for prisoners released right now. Due to the lockdown measures taken in prisons, a lot of criminals were released early (no worries, this isn't The Purge, they didn't release the scummiest ones).

That's about it. Sadly I couldn't take a camera inside to document my experiences so this is all I can show. What I can still tell you is that prison fucking sucks. I constantly hear conservatives complain that our prisons are like hotels but the prison I went to in Turnhout is exactly like the American prisons in movies, a cold concrete fortress, reinforced with steel structures to separate the cell blocks. Don't end up in prison kids!

Now I have to really think long and hard about what I'm going to post tomorrow because I'm running out of content and I haven't really been that productive during 'rona times lol.

Anyways, you'll read some rambling about something tomorrow, after that I'm freeeee.

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