Villeneuve les Maguelones gaol
Jean-Luc Le Gac, Hervé Di Rosa
At Villeneuve Les Maguelones prison near Montpellier it tends to be those on remand rather than convicted prisoners who are detained, men or teen-age youths awaiting the outcome of their case. So detainees do not stay there for very long. For those lucky enough to have a family, visits in the visiting rooms are organized four days a week. To combat the deplorable conditions meted out to visitors, the Aviso association (prison visitors) had negotiated with the administration that a building should be erected so that families did not have wait out of doors. In liaison with the Relais-Enfants-Parents association which sets out to re-establish the bond between a lone child and his/her father in detention, the members of Aviso decided to go further. Feeling a need for poetry, consideration led them to seek the involvement of an artist in the reception areas reserved for the families and in the visiting rooms, but it was important that the work should not sublimate the interior.
The visiting rooms and the approaches to them (corridors, stairs, two-door entry and exit chambers) were taken over by Le Gac, and the eight visiting-rooms reserved for children and child-parent contact by Di Rosa. For this project, Le Gac adhered to the prime aim of his work: mixing fiction and reality by inserting biographical elements into the works. Therefore after unifying and opening up the space by painting the walls in red ochre as the dominant colour, he hung up four monumental pictures and 150 photographs of his family and his life. Di Rosa's child-parent contact area took on the appearance of a public garden. The artist has chosen a different theme for each of the eight units (town, beach, desert, forest...) in order to break up the monotony of the place and has associated a narrative story line and characters that evoke the world of science fiction to each theme. Special furniture is used in conjunction with these surroundings. The playful dimension of his work makes it possible for children to approach it directly. It is a matter of trying to forge links and engender calm with these work-of-art environments.
Jean Le Gac, Hervé Di Rosa
The mediator suggested the joint involvement of two artists, Jean Le Gac and Hervé Di Rosa; their creative work, over and above their respective singularity, was alike in looking to painting as a medium, using a wide chromatic range with lively, warm dominant colours, and being interested in images taken from strip cartoons. In accepting this commission, the artists realised that their input could be only low-key in view of the problems associated with the prison world.