and they go into the space that your gaze embraces


 

and they go into the space that your gaze embraces: it concerns us

2016, video HD (38 min 57 s), loop
Production : Jeu de Paume
Co-production : Spectre

In order to say that something does not concern us, in French we often say “ça ne nous regarde pas”, meaning literally “it doesn’t look at us”. Here, the camera tours a detention center, the Centre de Retention Administrative Paris 1 (CRA), located on the edge of the forest of Vincennes: we see a long tracking shot, in long takes, from the viewpoint of the building hidden by the forest. On the evening of June 21, 2008, a rebellion started in this center following the death in his cell of Salem Essouli, an undocumented migrant detained in spite of his serious illness. During the rebellion, two of the CRA’s annexes were burned down by the “detainees.” But none of this could be visually documented from the outside. What we see here, therefore, is our impossibility of seeing what happened—or what is still happening, since another revolt occurred recently, on July 1, 2016—even though this concerns us (or “looks at us”) both ethically and politically.


and they go into the space that your gaze embraces: smoke signals

2016, video HD (37 min 10 s), loop
Production : Jeu de Paume
Co-production : Spectre

Images arranged on a light table become visible when a hand passes over them, thanks to the light reflecting on the palm. Another hand removes the images in a slow movement that allows us to glimpse the images before they fade back away. The series combines images that show the different uses of space around the detention center, Centre de rétention administrative Paris 1 (CRA) over the last century (the forest, the 1931 Colonial Exhibition, the racecourse) with current photos of the building as well as sentences taken from the testimonies of the “detainees” present during the revolt that took place in this center on June 21 and 22, 2008, as collected in the book Feu au centre de rétention. Des sans-papiers témoignent (Paris: Libertalia, 2008).