2122, CH - 8031 Zürich
Interview for TV-Stop with SEELENLOS in the airport-prison
Tuesday, 18th April 2000, 08.30 h
Introduction: Hello, dear viewers at home. Just now we are inside the airport-prison and say a big "thank you" to the big boss, who made this interview with the prisoned artist possible. In his presence i ask Seelenlos following questions.
- Today is your 29th day in prison. How do you feel?
Good morning! I feel already better than in the beginning, especially since 2 weeks I can take real food and receive my medicaments.
- A question everybody is courious about: The other persons accused of producing the movie "Blutgeil" have paid or are still paying their fines. What was your motive not to pay the Fr. 1000.-, but to sit 33 days in prison. (1 day = Fr.30.-).
On the one hand is the fact, that I earn Fr. 1´500.- per month. That means if I have to pay Fr. 1´000.- this is quite a big amount for me. On the other hand I never got over the fact, that where I was raised, people told me in school, we are living in a free country. In the DDR, if you read the wrong book, they will come to your house early in the morning. That´s how I grew up and here it happenend that it knocked at 7 in the morning. Not knocked, but busted the door and finally the movie got burned. Then I thought, if here around movies get burned, so let´s get down and serve my time.
- In fact you should serve your time in another prison? What happened?
Well, I´m an artist and I didn´t want to sit around doing nothing during my imprisonment but pursueing my normal profession. I made enquieries in the prison, if this would be possible, but it didn´t work out. They didn´t tell, what is possible and what not. So as protest I did a little show in front of the prison gates, what the head of the prison couldn´t handle: Despite nobody was harmed nor damage to property occured, they immediately alarmed the Kantonspolizei. More and more officers appeared and I was finally transported as a criminal dangerous to the community to this special prison.
- When your fine was changed into imprisonment, "National campaign for freedom of expression ncfe" wrote a letter to the state attorney insisting in letting drop the "Blutgeil case". Any reactions?
The board of Justice told journalists they didn't take the letter serious because it is a serial letter without signature. Fact is that I've seen a copy of the letter with the Executive Directors handwritten signature. I don't know why people dismiss this letter. On the other hand the publich prosecutor wrote a letter to NGBK (new society of fine arts, Berlin) that speaks for itself.
- How does your course of the day in prison look like?
Every day is a little different. Normally you have to get up between 06.15 and 06.30, then breakfast is delivered. Depending on the day sooner or later there is 1 hour of walking in the courtyard, then group penal system maybe 2 hours in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, but schedule changes a little from day to day. In the evening food is delivered at 17.00 and then it has to be quiet, if it is also quiet outside. 150 meters in front of my cell window is exactly the point on the runway where they turn up the engines before the thrust comes and the plane goes off. On the airport it´s busy until midnight, and it starts at 06.45 in the morning.
- How did the other prisoners react on a prisoned artist?
Well, as one of my colleagues said, I have to admit that I´m the foreigner in here as only Swiss person in the block. First there were some difficulties, because when I said I´m here because of a movie, they looked unbelieving and asked: "What? You did a porn movie? No porn? What else? Maybe a documentary?" It wasn´t easy to tell them why I am here at last.
- What was the reaction of the guards to a prisoned artist?
I think most of them are actually not informed, why the prisoners are here. They´re just there and everybody is treated more or less the same.
- Punishment should always have an educational value. What is your opinion, did the punishment reach its goal?
Well, because I am a perpetrator out of conviction, the whole thing made me all the more determined in my convictions. Concearning movies and culture I think we can´t proceed from the assumption that after my discharge I will mend my ways.
- So in your future artistic work you won´t pay attention not to confront with the law again?
No. As an artist I have the great luxury only to be under obligation to my artistic conscience. The way I produce my art and culture, I show no consideration for commercial aspects either. I´m doing a normal job to pay my bills, only to be able to do things the way I think to be right and good.
- What about solidarity? Did Swiss artists show solidarity with you?
Well, I honestly think, that also among artists everybody cares about him- / herself at first. Everybody is relieved about someone other going to prison instead of him- / herself. The other thing is, that in art and culture there are directions and opinions of any kind. Not everybody was happy about us quickly producing a movie with Fr. 1´500.- and hitting the headlines. Other film-makers work for years, change their script until they get the approved money. And so their movies get watered down until no one wants to watch it anymore.
I need to say, that I think something was going on the last 10 years. I mean on the occasion of the installation of article 135 there was a huge wave of protest. I remind of the open letter to the National Congress, in which well-known artists took a prominent stance and protested against the installation of a cultural censorship article in general. But meanwhile I have to assume, that most people accepted that - the way we were raised: On the one hand free Switzerland, on the other totalitarian states controlling art - these times are over now.
- What about freedom of culture inside the prison?
I had enough time to study the relevant reglementations at my disposal and in my opinion it doesn´t look too good. Concearning my concrete case I can say that I arrived here with 5 books, 5 magazines and a laptop. It took 5 work days until I got approval for at least 2 of the 5 books, 2 magazines and the laptop. But it´s not possible for me to dispatch files or disks to work for magazines or internet-magazines just like that. In that point I´m quite limited inside here.
- Which ways of communication with the outer world do you have as a prisoner.
I have the possibility to make 2 phonecalls for 10 minutes twice a month and to have visitors for 1 hour once a week. Beside that I´m allowed to write letters as many I want.
- When shooting "Blutgeil", did you think of these consequences, that it would all end up in prison?
No, not in my wildest dreams this would have occured to me. As I told, on the presumption that we live in a free country where you can produce the books and films you want and like, I didn´t expect the door bell ringing early in the morning. And it wasn´t the express postman...
- What are your plans after the discharge?
Well, my plans: I will live my life as usual, pursue the projects I´m working on and beside soak up the one or another inspiration inside here. And I think it surely will go on!