Ernest Pignon-Ernest – Prisons 2012

Ernest Pignon-Ernest is not a part of the new trend to be like Banksy, see Ernest has been amogst the street art scene since 1966 in response to France´s nuclear strike force. Over the years his work has focused on political and social issues such as the Parisian evictions from 1975-1980 and tributes to people such as his great friend Mahmoud Darwich. The particular piece chosen above is from a collection Ernest entitled “Prisons” with an incredible story. In the 1990´s Ernest had visited the now disused prison in Saint Paul, Lyon to engage with the inmates in a painting session. Fast forward to 2011 and the prison is on the verge of being converted to a university. Ernest-Pignon-Ernest´s original prison contact had contacted him to see if he was interested to” intervene before the radical transformation”. The prison notoriously held resistance fighters who were routinely tortured and Ernest jumped at the opportunity to recreate the legends left behind.

“Yoyos: plastic bottles, with the help of a string or a shred of cloth, the prisoners try to swing from one cell to another, messages, coffee, cigarettes, shit, most often hung in the barbed wire of which they hang like so many ex-votos who have nothing to hope.

This image of hanging yoyos, reading memories, and some dialogues with former inmates suggested allegories of yoyos, loaded yoyos, anger, desire, guilt, despair, love, Their children, their parents, dreams …” – Ernest Pignon-Ernest



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