30 – Bettina Rheims

France (1952)


Spurred on by Robert Badinter, in 2014 Bettina Rheims created Détenues, a series of portraits of women incarcerated in four detention centres in France. Endorsed by the prison administration, this project confronted the world of penal institutions with that of artistic creation. Its complex dialogue questions the construction and representation of femininity in places for confinement or with loss of liberty. The artist set up an improvised studio inside prisons where detainees volunteered to be photographed and engaged with the photographer in a process to reconstruct their identity as women and to initiate the reinstatement of their image.

These encounters gave rise to around sixty striking portraits inciting us to reflect on our view of custody.

An original scenography by the Institut pour la Photographie in Lille and the artist, adapted by Images Vevey.