Quartiers femmes, Caen et Rouen, 2013-2018 { 41 images } Created 17 Mar 2017

Ces oeuvres (photographies, peintures, carnets) ont été réalisées dans le cadre d'ateliers de photographie menés entre 2013 et 2018 aux quartiers femmes des maisons d’arrêt de Rouen et de Caen. L’administration pénitentiaire partage avait alors imposé une consigne stricte : l’interdiction de révéler le visage des détenues en raison du « droit à l’oubli ».

Malgré ces restrictions, l'atelier de soi est devenu au fil du temps un lieu de partage et de création collective sur l'image de soi et la place du regard en prison.

Dans un coin de la salle d'activité, un studio en lumière naturelle est installé. Les portraits à visages démasqués sont ensuite peints par projection sur un mur au cours d'un autre atelier mené en collaboration avec le Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen. Ils reçoivent de l’autorisation d’être exposés. Ces tableaux me seront ensuite offerts par les détenues qui souhaitent voir leur image exposée en dehors de la maison d’arrêt.

Ce travail marque la fin du cycle « Envisagées » (1997-2018) et le point de départ d’une recherche doctorale RADIAN (2020-2023) sur l’image des femmes au travail par la pratique d’une photographie compréhensive.




In 2013, I was invited to exhibit my photographs in the women’s quarters of a dilapidated red brick prison in the North of France. I put my personal questioning in context: how do you keep existing if nobody acknowledges or even sees you?
How do you build self-esteem trapped in the final confinement of a prison cell?

The women had all received a postcard in the previous days inviting them to a photography workshop about self-representation. This was intended as a gift. I meant to give them a respite, a moment when they were not criminals or numbers. Each woman chose her pose, attire and make-up. They brought their occasional diaries and most wore their attitude like an outfit in itself. It seems that as uncomfortable as it may sometimes be, having an image identifying us is a right, one that is snatched away from you the minute you step in prison. We spent a great deal of time discussing their self-image, then their image in prison, in their communities and in society at large. I invited them to take pictures of themselves, to make photographs were for their own use and for that of their loved ones.
They shared their stories, they were brutal and often unfair. Lives with no anchorage that can so easily and quickly be caught in crime. As we discussed these lives of violence and hardship there were plenty of inner prisons and absentee mothers.
As Monica, a young woman who just arrived in the prison told me:” You can be trapped in your image in a thousand different ways.” But it was tangible that all of us there, in that dirty yellow room, were yearning for the very same freedom.
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