free translation >< свободный перевод >< vapaa käännös


Free Translation is a multi-disciplinary project showcasing international works by currently and formerly incarcerated people as well as anyone affected by imprisonment. What you are experiencing is the online version of the Free Translation exhibition. In this project we use translation techniques as a means of creatively interpreting works of art and word. This means that we interpret the meaning of the works and create new works of art based on the translations. This can be a translation into another language or another medium. For example, a poem can be manifested into a photograph and a drawing can be written as a letter. In this way, we make new works of art and literature, and get closer to understanding ourselves and each other as we open dialogue.

The Online Gallery

On the online gallery under each picture there is the possibility for you to interpret or comment on that piece. It can be in text, visual, or video format.

Your translations and interpretations inspire more thoughts, feelings, and perspectives to be shared and to be sparked.

How to translate:

+ Select an artwork from the online gallery that speaks to you.

+ Look at it carefully and read it. What is this artwork trying to communicate to you?

+ Using creative means available to you such as pen, paper, recycled materials or your mobile phone camera/word processor create a response to the work. What feelings and thoughts does it inspire in you? How does that feeling translate into a color or a shape, for example?

+ In addition or as an alternative, feel free to translate the work into another language.

Email your translation to info(at) Include the title of the piece, date, materials, and author, if you would like these to be posted along with your artwork. You can directly upload your own response/translation to the artwork at the bottom of the artwork where it says ‘Add your interpretation’.

Visitors of the website, art exhibitions and workshops we hold will see your creative response. We always will try to make sure the responses are seen by their authors.

Open Call for Source Texts

We invite folks affected by incarceration to submit a work in any means of creative expression, be it a drawing, a photograph or a poem or any other technique that speaks to you. The open call is ongoing and open to all ages. The works submitted will appear online and in any future exhibitions in Finland and abroad.

This exhibition makes use of the translation process as we interact and create new artworks in response to the original artwork. Your work on view encourages the audience to prompt dialogue, inspire thoughts, and creatively activate the space. Your voice is heard and recognized.

You are welcome to submit a piece of work to be included in the Free Translation exhibition. Include the title of the piece, date, materials, and author, if you would like these to be posted along with your artwork

Your artistic contribution is very much appreciated. Works can be emailed to info(at) or mailed to:

Free Translation
Kaasutehtaankatu 1
00580 Helsinki

Please note that the artist is responsible for posting the artworks to be included in the exhibition. By sending us your artworks you give consent to putting them on Prison Space and Translation is Dialogue websites, social media outlets, and including them in the exhibitions in public spaces and online. If for any reason, you wish to be anonymous, please state that clearly. We reserve a right to exhibit a selected number of works.

To keep up to date on Free Translation happenings, please check, and

We hope to see you there!

Anastasia Artemeva & Arlene Tucker


Free Translation is a continuously growing interactive space that exhibits art by people affected by incarceration. Please feel free to contact us at info(at)

Free Translation Sessions is a collaboration of two projects: Prison Outside and Translation is Dialogue (TID). We are based in Helsinki, Finland. Prison Outside focuses on the role of the arts in subjects of imprisonment, justice, and in the relationships between people in prisons and people outside. TID is an ongoing art curation that generates a new project every time it is presented. TID uses translation techniques to not only produce art, but also understand what is being communicated.

To keep up to date and learn more about our projects, please visit, and

Thank you and we look forward to seeing your artwork!


Anastasia Artemeva & Arlene Tucker

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This is an excerpt from a letter from Marina. Marina who is currently serving a sentence in a female detention camp in Russia. She writes: Dear Elena, I am writing to you and sending you kindness, warmth and a lot of best wishes. Fate has brought me to prison, because I’m too kind and naive. Once you find yourself locked up, you realise that there is no one out there who cares about you. My mom and dad died. I have a sister, but she has her own family, two small kids, and I just cannot, my conscience won’t allow me to ask her for help. There is nothing to say about my other relatives. When I was a free woman, when I was working - everybody needed me, and now - nobody. I’m very ashamed. Please help, I’m sorry, but I have none else to ask. All the best, wishing you a long life and a peaceful sky above your head. With deepest respect, Marina - A letter from Marina / Письмо от Марины, 2019


  • Free Translation says:

    Наталия: я выбрала письмо, пишет Марина из тюрьмы, веселых писем оттуда не бывает, и здесь подчеркнуто “мама с папой умерли”, как ей освобождаться, что ей надеть, ч то она будет есть – нарисовала самое практичное, а потом вспомнила, ч то обязательно нужна красота – дорисовала юбку и туфли на каблуках.

    Natalia: I chose a letter, Marina writes from prison, there is not happy letters from there, and in this one it is emphasized “mom and dad have died,” What will she do when she is released, what will she wear, what will she eat? I drew the painted the most practical items, and then remembered that we need some beauty, too – so I added the skirt and high heel shoes.

  • Free Translation says:

    A reply to Marina’s letter made during a Free Translation workshop in Moscow in October 2019.

    “Marina, take care of your self!”

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