Incarceration Altars #3 | Irish Artist's Film Index

Incarceration Altars #3

Bernie Masterson

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Artist's biography

Bernie Masterson


Grangegorman Public Art Per Cent Scheme
The Irish Prison Service
Dublin City Educational Training Board


This work is a Grangegorman public art per cent award titled 'Incarceration Altars'. ‘Incarceration Altars’, is a collaboration between artist Bernie Masterson and residents of Mountjoy Prison Campus, in partnership with the Irish Prison Service and the City of Dublin ETB, where she investigates the relationship between person, place and object through a series of images and prisoners’ narratives. The art project aims to contextualise the different worlds of prison identity and private identity. Objects provide links to those identities and are also used to reflect on other themes such as ‘mourning and memory,’ ‘transition and passage,’ ‘meditation and new vision,’ and how they serve as a marker in a significant life situation such as incarceration. Masterson has worked with the project participants for several months and the culmination of this work is in the form of an audio - visual display of prisoners own testimonies. The complete installation consist of five video screens Speaking about ‘Incarceration Altar’, the Chair of the Grangegorman Public Art Working Group, Prof. Ciarán Benson is quoted as saying - “Being ‘inside’ is the euphemism for being in prison. Inside spaces are mostly small, enveloped, sometimes pushing against their walls, other times a refuge from all that is outside. What Bernie Masterson explores so astutely, and with such palpable sympathy and skilled restraint, in her ‘Incarceration Altars’ is how troubled – and sometimes troubling – people can fashion unique and deeply personal islands of meaning, fuelled by memory and imagination, from the tiny spaces to which they have been confined. In this memorable and moving project, she shows how self-in-space can visibly extend the person and create a humanised place, however spare.”

Concept & Technique

‘Incarceration Altars’ comprises of ten participants from the Training Unit Prison and Mountjoy Main Prison and is an installation piece involving standard prison TV monitors with headphones. The audio / display unit was made by Vincent Moore and his students in PACE, which is a community based agency that has been working with prison and post prison clients for over forty years. The installation site in the DIT College, Rathdowen House, Grangegorman Campus, maximises the potential audience interaction and dissemination of the work. It is also intended to tour the exhibition, with one of the venues being the IPS Training College in Portlaoise in early 2018 with a variety of educational projects and local involvement.


Incarceration Altars #3 ‘Open Mind’, The National Prisoners Exhibition, RUA RED Gallery (06-09-2019)

Incarceration Altars #3 Irish Short Reels Series, Contemporary Irish Arts Center Los Angeles, CIACLA (22-08-2019)

Screening Incarceration Altars #3, 4, & 5 at the European Prison Education Association Conference, TU Dublin, (15-07-2019)

Incarceration Altars #3 Homeland ‘Of Memory’, LOOP Festival, Barcelona, Spain (22-11-2018)

Incarceration Altars #3 Homeland ‘Of Memory’, Damer House Gallery, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary (11-08-2018)

Five channel screening, Irish Prison Education Association Conference, Irish Prison Service College, Portlaoise (06-07- 2018)

Five channel screening, Grangegorman Public Art Per Cent Project, DIT, Dublin (12-10-2017)



Incarceration Altars #3






Arts, Emotions, Environment, Human Relations, Humankind




No subtitles



Original formats

Digital HD

Screening formats

Digital 2K, Digital HD, HD

Aspect ratio






Supported by Kildare County Council Arts Service, the Arts Council of Ireland and Visual Artists Ireland.
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