Castle of Innocence

  • Dates
    2020 - 2024
  • Author
  • Topics Archive, Contemporary Issues, Documentary
  • Location San José, Costa Rica

Castle of Innocence examines the power dynamics present in the construction of historical narratives and collective memory through the imaginative space of the Children's Museum of Costa Rica.

“Castle of Innocence” delves into the Children’s Museum of Costa Rica, an imaginative educational space for children featuring ludic scenarios; set against its historical backdrop as the former central prison.

Drawing from archival material of the prison era and diverse elements from the museum, the project challenges the influence of power structures in shaping historical narratives and questions the authenticity of photography as a truthful document.

Both the prison and the museum serve as institutions to encapsulate physical and symbolic representations of collective identities. The project intertwines these spaces in a nonlinear narrative, confronting the echoes of trauma and violence from the building’s prison history with the imaginative environments of the museum.

Due to the secretive and foreboding nature of the prison, gaps and missing information emerge, leading to a retelling where stories blend factual details and myths, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction.

Similarly, the Children’s Museum employs storytelling and imagination to educate on various themes, including historical events such as the prison’s past through replicas of different prison cells.

These parallels prompt reflection on the complex interplay of tensions, repetitions, and contradictions in the dissemination of knowledge, history, cultural heritage, and collective memory.

Simultaneously, it offers an exploration of the liminal space between protection and control, particularly relevant in our contemporary post-truth era.

© Joel Jimenez - Image from the Castle of Innocence photography project
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n.d. During the early 20th century, minors caught stealing in the streets, often referred to as “rats”, were sent to the Central Penitentiary. They shared living quarters with older prisoners and were assigned various duties, including agricultural work.

© Joel Jimenez - Recreated prison cell featuring an original mural painted by inmates, salvaged from the walls of the former prison.
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Recreated prison cell featuring an original mural painted by inmates, salvaged from the walls of the former prison.

© Joel Jimenez - Non-functional interactive vintage installation depicting the solar system.
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Non-functional interactive vintage installation depicting the solar system.

© Joel Jimenez - Image from the Castle of Innocence photography project
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Vintage book titled “When They Bury You, I Will Step on Your Grave” resting on the stained bed of a recreated prison cell.

© Joel Jimenez - Image from the Castle of Innocence photography project
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Genuine stamp table utilized by precolonial indigenous cultures from Costa Rica, on display in the Indigenous Heritage section of the Children’s Museum.

© Joel Jimenez - n.d. Public officials supervising the construction model of the prison’s transformation into the Children’s Museum.
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n.d. Public officials supervising the construction model of the prison’s transformation into the Children’s Museum.

© Joel Jimenez - Simulation of a submarine periscope with an animated display showcasing the Children’s Museum of Costa Rica on an island.
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Simulation of a submarine periscope with an animated display showcasing the Children’s Museum of Costa Rica on an island.

© Joel Jimenez - Museum room designed as a large scale replica of the inside of a human mouth.
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Museum room designed as a large scale replica of the inside of a human mouth.

© Joel Jimenez - Recreated serpent venom research laboratory situated in the Science Education section of the museum.
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Recreated serpent venom research laboratory situated in the Science Education section of the museum.

© Joel Jimenez - Image from the Castle of Innocence photography project
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Circa 1974. Inmates and public officials posing for a photograph during a visit to inspect the living conditions of prisoners at the Central Penitentiary.

© Joel Jimenez - Recreated prison cell bed, allegedly utilized for sexual encounters.
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Recreated prison cell bed, allegedly utilized for sexual encounters.

© Joel Jimenez - Detail of a fire simulation room within the Safety Education section.
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Detail of a fire simulation room within the Safety Education section.

© Joel Jimenez - Recreated prison cell from the early 20th century.
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Recreated prison cell from the early 20th century.

© Joel Jimenez - Detailed depiction of a recreated animal habitat, featuring a bird of prey.
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Detailed depiction of a recreated animal habitat, featuring a bird of prey.

© Joel Jimenez - Ant farm replica.
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Ant farm replica.

© Joel Jimenez - Image from the Castle of Innocence photography project
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Circa 1949. Edgar Cardona, Minister of Defence and former soldier, relinquishes control of the prison to the police forces, marking a step in the demilitarization process following the abolition of the military in Costa Rica in 1948.

© Joel Jimenez - Deceased fake rat positioned within a recreated prison cell.
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Deceased fake rat positioned within a recreated prison cell.

© Joel Jimenez - 1979. President Rodrigo Carazo performs a symbolic detonation to signal the closure of the Central Penitentiary.
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1979. President Rodrigo Carazo performs a symbolic detonation to signal the closure of the Central Penitentiary.

© Joel Jimenez - Image from the Castle of Innocence photography project
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Replica of a vintage television playing news coverage from a devastating fire that struck the Central Penitentiary of Costa Rica in 1979.

© Joel Jimenez - Image from the Castle of Innocence photography project
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1990. Students from an upper-class private school participating in a tree-planting activity near the abandoned building of the Central Penitentiary.

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Castle of Innocence by Joel Jimenez

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