For the last two years, Jean-Michel Pancin (b. 1971, lives and works in Avignon and Paris) has dedicated himself to preserving the memory of the now-abandoned prison Sainte-Anne. The prison was built in 1865, behind the Palais des Papes, below the Jardin des Doms.
The artist initiated the project with the Pelotes (2010-2012). These “bundles” would be thrown up to the prisoners by their family from this garden. Having found a number of them, abandoned on upper ledges, photographed them and recorded their location, Jean-Michel Pancin presents them as though they were sealed relics, reluctant witnesses of the social relationships that the prisoners maintained with the outside world. Attentive to the paradoxes inherent in prison life, Jean-Michel Pancin produced a series of rubbings of the hearts carved into the walls of the courtyard (Champs d’amours [Fields of Love], 2010-2011).
His installation «Tout dépendait du temps…» [«Everything Depended on the Time…»] (2012) also includes prison cell doors, fitted into a cement block made to size, like steles commemorating the creativity of the detainees. Jean-Michel Pancin creates art whose construction can’t be reduced to one form and which reveals the symbolic complexity of prison. As in his series of photographs, Lumières (2010-2012), in which he captures the rays of light on the walls of the prison cells, he intends to remind the viewer of the suffering caused by these walls to prisoners used to darkness.