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My Journey to Tasmania

juin 7, 2017

Grâce à Sandrine Moreau qui m’a accueillie à L’espace d’art la Terrasse à Nanterre pour l’exposition « Le sens de la Peine »
Grâce à Olivier Varenne qui est venu voir cette exposition et l’a aimée
Grâce aux artistes
Et grâce à mille autres personnes et événements, je pars en Tasmanie avec l’espoir d’y présenter l’an prochain, pendant le DARK MOFO Festival une prochaine grande exposition sur art et prison :

“Prison” is understood here not only as physical jails, but as imprisonment in general. And imprisonment is everywhere: it is physical, bodily, mental, social, cultural, virtual; imprisonment behind borders, borders from the other, the other humans, the other countries; imprisonment inside social norms, stereotypes and taboos; imprisonment in ourselves, in our bodies and our fears. And we humans imagine and create jails with similar passion as we thrive for freedom. In particular, in these times of political fear, rapid changes and sometimes convulsive chaos, the temptation of jailing anybody who diverges, from subversive teens to migrants, from political dissidents to journalists, seems to raise every day. Jails are proliferating everywhere in the world; we construct them and we let them proliferate; we let them being overcrowded, and too often we let them transform petty criminals in real criminals. Discipline and Punish (Foucault, 1975) is not over and the penal evolution away from corporal and capital punishment to the penitentiary system that began in Europe and the United States around the end of the 18th century is still ongoing. Inhuman – and so human.

The constant duality imprisonment-freedom may lead to both real and virtual Journeys to Freedom. It was as a Journey to Freedom that Australia started its today’s existence in 1788 – when the UK opened a first penitentiary in the natural port of Sydney, Port Jackson, and sent inmates and guardians on boats to Australia. Sometimes also prisons host such journeys to freedom from within. Art is one such freedom, even though it can be by itself a constraint – though a voluntary one. Jhafis Quintero, who became an artist while in jail for ten years, states that: “Creation is indispensable to the inmates’ survival”. Creating – no matters what – is indispensable to survive incarceration in the most constrained conditions: this is also what Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige tell as in their film Khiam 2000-2007. May be creating is indispensable for everybody’s survival. Indeed, “ART IS A FREEDOM” (Tracey Emin, personal correspondence): a freedom that starts in our brains. Think freely, imagine freely, create freely, write freely. Imprisonment and freedom are the two faces of a double sword. Any exploration of imprisonment is therefore by itself a journey to freedom and exhibitions on “art & prison” are one possible way to promote freedom, inasmuch such exhibitions always lead us to reflect on the binomial freedom/imprisonment. Freedom however is never attained: it is and always remains an every moment discipline and a constant effort. It is a journey, till the end. A JOURNEY TO FREEDOM.

Ancien Centre pénitentiaire de Port Arthur 

Hobart, Tasmanie

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