Belgian architect-artist

Koen Deprez

1982

Door for the Red Brigades

Because the handle and cylinder of the Door for the Red Brigades are placed next to the hinges, it is impossible to open the door from the outside. During the 1980s, when Deprez was making this work, society faced a number of threats to the established order. These emanated from radical left-wing political movements such as the Red Army Faction (RAF) in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy and the Communist Combatant Cells (CCC) in Belgium, but also included various other faceless movements. Hostile forces were competing with each other on supranational level, but also within the domestic sphere: danger was lurking around every corner, or so it seemed. In this context, the door reflects society's need for places of safety, sites that offer a retreat from reality.

Later, when Deprez designed eight similar doors for a prison, these places of isolation and shelter were transformed into threatening versions of Pandora's box. In the prison context, it is not the refugee but the prisoner who decides when to open the door. This simple inversion of inside/outside is a radical overthrow of the accepted social roles within the institutional framework. While the prisoner gains freedom of movement, the supervisor loses the overview and control. Deprez's hypothetical doors thus negate the fundamental premise upon which prison architecture is based.

Prison, box wood, mixed technique, 40 x 40 x 4 cm

Prison, box wood, mixed technique, 40 x 40 x 4 cm

Plan, ink on paper, 38 x 38 x 4 cm

Plan, ink on paper, 38 x 38 x 4 cm