Penitentiary Centre, Valence, France
Resident artist: Justine Verneret

My teaching experiences reveal a certain coherence linked to this artistic trajectory: from the creation of images focused on the forces of individuality and of a certain vision of aestheticism, to the transmission of these creative approaches; all the workshops I have led are based on this necessity: to stimulate in others a creative process aiming to reanimate or to give birth to a valorising image of oneself, to “bring out of oneself” unsuspected things. Visual creation activates a movement of elevation towards a potential awareness.

Wanting to make photography a device for creating social links, means to introduce a dialogical approach between the other and ourselves, between the world and ourselves. Alain Kerlan writes: « It is only by engaging in self-narrative that one progressively builds up a sense of self ».(1)

Social inclusion though photography

The use of photography as a means of social inclusion is a widespread practice in Latin America and especially in Brazil.
In 2004, the photographers’ movement of Rio de Janeiro, Foto Rio, held the first meeting on visual inclusion in the city, with the participation of eleven projects from Rio and other regions of Brazil. The visual inclusion projects, explains Milton Guran (anthropologist, photographer and founder of Foto Rio), « aim to rebuild the self-esteem of the communities, to give them the right tools to live their citizenship and enhance their own social relations, opening the way to a vision based on what’s best in these communities ». (2)

« Visual inclusion, as practised by Milton Guran, is less a matter of direct political intervention than of an anthropological intervention that respects cultural experiences. It is inscribed in the everyday, and explicitly accommodates a poetics of the ordinary and of the banality of everyday life. Everyone is simply invited to photograph their family, their home, their neighbourhood, or a significant event in their day. There is nothing exceptional or denunciatory in these images of the favelas as such, but a common value shines through, a quiet quality running through the images without ostentation: dignity. Dignity as a virtue and modest pride of everyday life ». (3)

1. 2. 3. Alain Kerlan, La photographie comme lien social (Photography as social connection) P.15 Collection « Pôle photo » 2008. P. 21, 28, 31

« My thoughts turn to God for every day he gives us. I have faith. I do not practice, but I intend Inshallah to practice with God’s help.
I know that there are many skies, 7 of them: from the first day for the most good, the most honest, the most generous, to the 7th for the least good; but “least good” does not mean selfish or mean. God forgives, so why does the human being not forgive his neighbour?
Then, there are the unbelievers who do not believe in another heaven, so I think that, for them, their heaven is on earth. Everyone is free to think, to see life as they want, I want everyone to have freedom of expression. This is my opinion. »


« Beauty will be that of the situation, that is to say, provisional and lived. »

Guy Debord

« At the end of the workshop, they hug me tightly. These forces of light, which came out of the shadows on a morning in May… pain. »

With this public, the language of photography appeared to me to be overwhelming, for some of them the artistic work turned out to be a work of clarification and overcoming.

During this action, photography became a link between the outside and the inside, with the aim of being able to dare to say, to dare to look inside oneself, and perhaps to touch a form of reconciliation with one’s own pain.

Some life stories, if told, would allow certain experiences to be made visible, kept at a distance, to be overcome, so that these unspoken and unacknowledged things can be openly stated.

An intense human encounter took place, it could never have existed without artistic mediation, without the medium of photography; this allowed this vibrant face-to-face encounter between imprisoned individuals and a free woman.

« The idea of boundaries has been removes, as if it was suspended. The camera has this power, the power to create an unlikely and surprising encounter. »

Justine Verneret