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Escaping from the outer sight as much as it imposes an omnipresent look on the inside, the prison is a subject seized by photography time and time again. Very often, it’s about ”giving to see”, revealing confinement through image, as well as the condition of the prisoners and the prison oppression. Maxence Rifflet’s approach appears in the light of this photographic history which is experimental and singular.

Between 2016 and 2018, he took photographs in seven French prisons. Photographing in prison, rather than photographing prison, is what could sum up his project. The formula is as simple and pithy as the path he took which was winding and steep. It’s in collaboration with detainees that he made his way, sharing with them the following questions: how to photograph in a surveillance space without doubling it? How to frame without enclosing? Together with them, he used photography in turn to document spaces, to stage an experience, to represent an imaginary, to illustrate a message.

The exhibition ”Heaven over the Roof” makes the choice to dig the furrow of imagination, going as far as to join poet Paul Verlaine, to whom the title is borrowed, or painter Gustave Courbet, imagining an impossible view from his cell.

The exhibition is a co-production of the Rouen Normandie Photographic Center, GwinZegal (Guingamp), Le Bleu du Ciel (Lyon) and Le Point du Jour (Cherbourg-en-Cotentin). Its Rouen part is held in conjunction with the Engagement (”Commitment”), a national event organized by the Réseau Diagonal in partnership with the National Center of Plastic Arts (Cnap) and supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Adagp. Rouen’s works by Jane Evelyn Atwood, preserved in the collections of the Cnap and issueed from her series ”Too many sentences, Women in prison (1990-1998)” will also be presented during the exhibition. The project of Maxence Rifflet was accompanied by Le Point du Jour as part of the Culture-Justice scheme in Normandy. It’s supported by the Fund for Documentary Photography of the National Center for Plastic Arts.

photographs by Maxence RIFFLET

From 12/10/2019 to 01/02/2020
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