The education service of the juvenile detention centre in Meyzieu and Veduta invited the artist Félix Luna for a joint creative experience set to have a long-term existence. The artist took advantage of the centre’s bicycle repair workshop to lend an aesthetic and poetic dimension to what has become a mundane, practical activity. The artist’s practice, based on the principles of experimental and subjective investigations, thus merges with the detainees’ everyday lives in order to co-build a collective narrative.
Acting on his strong desire to deconstruct the authority relationship inherent to prison settings, the artist made use of a meticulous and time-consuming activity to instil a sharing dynamic. The workshop, whose activity ranges from removing every part of a bike to reassembling a new vehicle, was thus an ideal pretext for exploring the various steps of an artistic process. The idea was for artist and participants to co-construct a fiction using fragments of each person’s own story, so that the individualities – irrespective of issues to do with otherness and hierarchy – blended to create a collective narrative. Subsequently, this narrative, following the principle of transposition to reality, set the scene of a highly tangible world: a miniature velodrome supplied with bikes reassembled in the workshop.
Extending beyond the facility’s confined spaces, the velodrome route combines – in a plastic sense – the real world and the prison microcosm, enabling families and detainees to enjoy a carefree interlude as they go for a ride. The effort generated to power the bikes serves two goals: the salutary release afforded by this fun and physical activity, and the materialisation of a desire for freedom that is heightened by the detainees’ actual condition.
After several months of shared experiences, the artist decided to set up a fictitious collective to pay tribute to all the project’s creators: Les Presses Prisonnières exhibited their joint productions at Meyzieu municipal library, to round off the residency; and online to continue the journey.
As part of the Culture Justice programme supported by the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes regional directorate for cultural affairs (DRAC), the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes regional council, and the juvenile justice service (PJJ).
Photos : Official opening of the exhibition Mes mains, mes bras, mes cheveux, mes oreilles, mes yeux, Meyzieu in the Media Center of Meyzieu, February 24, 2022 © Blandine Soulage
Illustration : Meyzieu – Mes yeux (preparatory sketch), Félix Luna, 2021