Prisoners, 2023

Public Art Commission at the Pumping Station, Melbourne, part of Treatment III.

Prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings

 Angela Y Davis.

Prisoners is a looped single-channel video installation created at the Pumping Station, the location for the infamous 1986 Blackmoor prison riot, in the TV series Prisoner. Glenda Linscott, who played Rita Conners, the chief protagonist in the riot, revisits the site to re-create iconic scenes from the TV show alongside interviews and performances from women who have lived experience of incarceration. Prisoner was one of the most popular series in Australian television history running for over 690 episodes and developing a huge fan base in Australia and overseas. Scenes from the show are recreated from the artist’s memory allowing the script to fragment as it fuses with personal biases. Deliberately blurring the “invisible line” between documentary and fiction Prisoners explores the mythologizing of the prison industrial complex within Australian culture. 

The Pumping Station was built in the 1890s to clean up Melbourne’s sewerage, its imposing industrial architecture made it the perfect location for Blackmoor, the fictitious “black hole” of the prison system. 

Featuring interviews with Debbie Kilroy, Sisters Inside, Naomi Murphy, Woor-Dungin; and Sara and Nina, Homes not Prisons.

Created with generous support from Create NSW Commissioning Program.

Once the aura of magic is stripped away from the imprisonment solution, however, what is revealed is racism, class bias and the parasitic seduction of capitalist profit within a system that … devours the social wealth needed to address the very problems that have led to spiralling numbers of prisoners.

Angela Y Davis

Film by Zanny Begg
Starring Glenda Linscott
Interviews with Debbie Kilroy, Sisters Inside, Naomi Murphy, Woor-Dungin; and Sara and Nina, Homes not Prisons.

Cast and Crew

Petra Leslie, Cinematographer
Cameron Dunlop, Second Camera
Natalie Cicciarelli, Producer
Jack Pardy, Assistant Producer
David Ross, Audio Engineer
Bob Scott and Serge Stanley, Mixing
Mark Blanch, Lighting
Joshua Fernandez, Best Boy
Jasmine Guffond, Composition
Fiona Dann, Casting
Emma Saunders, Choreographer
Bon Mott, Makeup Artist
Yanni Kronenberg, Colourist
Editor and Script, Zanny Begg

Featuring; Sarah Kaluke, Michael O’Malley, Bronwyn Penrith, Dax Carnay, Evan Hocking, Campbell R Smith, Gabriela Green, Lee Quek, and Nesina Viola.

With thanks to Jonathan Shearer from The Pumping Station.
Commissioned by Deakin Public Art Commission.

Stills by Hugo Begg, 2023.

Donations to the Free Her campaign, which supports women inside, can be made here: