Prisoner Art Show in Altoetting

Prisoner Art Show in Altoetting

Lord Mayor & Reinhilde Muller-Trisl

Reinhilde Muller-Trisl & Christian Kuhn

Heinz-Peter Echtermeyer

Kurt Riemhofer Michael Platzer

ICCPPC Art Exhibition Brought to Holiest Place in Germany

Upon the invitation of the Mayor, Herbert Hofauer, 50 works of art were hung in the City Hall Gallery of Altoetting for the month of July.   Born near the little Bavarian town, Pope Benedikt XVI considers Altoetting his spiritual home.  His family made regular pilgrimages to the Black Madonna Chapel and in later years when he was professor in nearby Tuebigen and Regensburg. As Bishop in Munich he frequently came back privately to this spiritual oasis.  One and half million pilgrims come annually to this holy place – St Konrad of Parzham is also buried here.  Many come on foot and many  visit from other countries.

In addition to a strong religious community, there is also a very active group of individuals and organizations concerned about the weaker members of society.  The Rotarians and the Lions agreed to collaborate with ICCPPC to arrange the exhibition of prison art as well as a panel discussion on  youth in conflict with the law.   The colloquium which was held in the City Council chambers and  opened by the Mayor was of extremely high quality. It was a full house (well over 100 people came) and focused on prevention and reintegration of juvenile offenders.   Heinz Peter Echtermeyer came down from Berlin and led the discussion (see below his speech).  Dr Gabriel Moser, the juvenile judge in Altoetting, presented statistics and  her experiences as to why juveniles offend.  Recidivism was the subject of Erhard Frank, defense attorney from Burghausen (formerly Munich).    The police commissioner for youth, Peter Hermann,  who had his hands full handling the partying Croatian, German, Polish, and Turkish European Cup football supporters spoke about the organization “Pro Preventiv” he had helped to  found with Dr. Moser for alternative activities for youth.  The former Mayor of Neuoetting Frank Springer, urged people to get involved with and support such activities. Dieter Prenninger-Hackl, the youth worker in Altoetting described the programmes that were provided to youth outside of school. Andreas Wagner, the Governor of the nearby Juvenile facility in Laufen-Lebenau (near Salzburg)  discussed his institution’s efforts to rehabilitate convicted offenders, including hiking in the mountains and art therapy.   Kurt Riemhofer, ICCPPC member and Prison Chaplain for Bavaria, closed the evening by talking about the two young men who had been featured prominently in the news for beating and killing an old man in the subway in Munich.  He said one had repented and was getting involved with rehabilitation work, while the other remained inaccessible.

Michael Platzer thanked the Mayor’s office, in particular, Melanie Maurer, the Rotarians, Heinz Hummelsberger and Rainer Krick,  Gerold Tandler from the Hotel Post, Mrs. Reinhilde Mueller-Trisel from the Altoetting Art Association, and his mother, Hertha Platzer, who had supported him in this endeavour and throughout his life.   Mrs. Mueller-Trisl not only arranged for teachers and students from the local high school to visit, but personally led tours of politicians and women’s groups of the exhibit.  As an art historian and teacher she had unique insights into what the artists were trying to express. A happy result of Michael Platzer’s visit to the Juvenile Detention facility was that ten large art pieces, including self-portraits of some of the young offenders, joined the ICCPPC exhibit.  Two of the teenagers were able to participate in the hanging of the works of arts and to visit the Chapel of our Lady of Altoetting.  Their art teacher, Ms.  Margareta Thiel  and Diakon Otwin Mazzini, their chaplain,  came to the opening of the exhibit and spoke with Mrs. Mueller-Trisl about organizing another regional exhibition with institutions from the area.   Brother Felix Kraus from the Capuchins brought two crucifixes made of bread by prisoners to join the display.   The bronzes made by  Istvan of Austria were also admired by the many hundreds of people who came to the City Hall to conduct their daily business.

ICCPPC President Christian Kuhn came to close the exhibit at the end of July.  He expressed his appreciation to the Mayor’s office and organizers of the exhibit.  In his talks with Mrs. Mueller-Trisl, he gained new understanding about some of the paintings, which the Altoettingers had chosen for their town exhibit.

Hofrat Kuhn emphasized that these exhibitions are an excellent tool to broaden the understanding of the civil society of the situation of prisoners and their desire to be recognized as humans with feelings and sensitive artistic expression.

Michael Platzer

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