Saturday, October 19 and Saturday, December 14 at 4pm, in the presence of Maxence Rifflet

Because it is hidden from the outside eye as much as it imposes an omnipresent gaze on the inside, the prison is a subject that photography has dealt with on many occasions. Very often, it is first and foremost a question of “showing”, of revealing through the image the confinement, the condition of the prisoners, the prison oppression. Maxence Rifflet’s approach appears in light of this photographic history, experimental and singular.

Between 2016 and 2018, he photographed in seven French prisons. Photographing in prison, rather than the prison, is what summarizes his project. The formula is as simple and lapidary as the path taken, sinuous and steep. It is in collaboration with prisoners that he has made his way, sharing with them these questions: how to photograph in a space of surveillance without doubling it? How to frame without confining? With them, he used photography in turn to document spaces, to stage an experience, to represent an imaginary world, to illustrate a message.

The exhibition Le Ciel par-dessus le toit (The Sky over the Roof) chooses to dig into the furrow of the imagination, going so far as to enlist the company of the poet Paul Verlaine, from whom the title is borrowed, or the painter Gustave Courbet, who imagined an impossible view from his cell.

The exhibition is a co-production of the Centre photographique Rouen Normandie, GwinZegal (Guingamp), Le Bleu du Ciel (Lyon) and Le Point du Jour (Cherbourg-en-Cotentin). This Rouen section is held as part of the Engagement, a national event organized by the Diagonal Network in partnership with the National Center for the Plastic Arts (Cnap) and the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Adagp. As part of the event “L’Engagement” and the partnership with the Centre national des arts plastiques, will be presented a selection of works by Jane Evelyn Atwood from “Trop de peines”, a body of work that was a milestone in the photographic representation of the prison environment. From 1990 to 1998, the American photographer photographed women’s prisons in nine countries, including France. The images taken at the Rouen prison, where Maxence Rifflet also worked thirty years later, will open a dialogue. From the same subject, the images testify to two different attitudes and looks.

Maxence Rifflet’s project, accompanied by Le Point du Jour, was supported by the Normandy Region, the Ministry of Culture / Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs of Normandy and by the Ministry of Justice / Interregional Directorate of Prison Services of Rennes / SPIP of Calvados, Eure, Manche, Orne and Seine-Maritime, within the framework of the regional protocol Culture-Justice; it was supported by the interregional directorate of prison services of Bordeaux / SPIP of Dordogne. It also received the support of the Fonds d’aide à la photographie documentaire du Centre national des arts plastiques.


Photograph : View of the exhibition Le ciel par-dessus le toit, Centre photographique Rouen Normandie


Free admission, upon reservation
at 02 35 89 36 96