The third story that I am sharing is : "Pāri Mūriem"
Pāri Mūriem means "Over the Walls" in Latvian. This is a story about youth and imprisonment.
In the prison’s sally port, I wait for my identity to be checked. A little anxious about the experience to come, a photographic workshop in a juvenile detention center, I enter the Latvian prison administration’s territory. Inside, the crackling and echoes of walkie-talkies resonate as corridors open to a succession of doors, railings, barbed wire and surveillance cameras. The obsession for security, dedicated to only 39 young men amazes me. I was about to meet 10 of them.
I had brought a film camera for each of them. My intention was to introduce them to this tool of expression during a month-long workshop. Behind the prison walls, they photographed their daily lives and I took portraits of them in an authorized location of their own choice. Afterwards, I asked each of the boys to indicate a place dear to them in Latvia , where I would go take a photograph on their behalf, as to complete their portraits made behind the prison’s wall.
I soon realised that the prison administration was not going to let us do exactly what had been planned before my arrival: I had to develop each roll of film in a prison toilet, then, under the scrutinising eyes of the security staff, I was forced to scrape the sensitive surface of parts of the negatives, deemed too “risk-sensitive” by the administration, using a knife on which was engraved CAIN, the Latvian acronym for "Juvenile Detention Center".
I felt as if I was destroying our work, denying the creativity and identity of these ten teenagers. But in doing so, I later understood that these alterations were precisely the embodiment of the violence and control of imprisonment and underlined how the deprivation of freedom will irrevocably mark the identities under construction of these future adults.
This project was possible thanks to the artist residency Rucka in Latvia, Cēsis.
A book about this project is on the making (check my website for seing a flipping through)