In characterising that which is reprehensible, unlawful or criminal, in distinguishing a “they” from an “us”, an “inside” from an “outside”, prisons point toward the way in which societies are developed. For Nicolas Daubanes, an artist evolving in a carceral universe, it is not so much this social aspect as an individual, that’s to say intimate, dimension of detention that interests him.
At 35, Nicolas Daubanes assigned himself a life project: to understand all the forms of imprisonment, including his own. To do this he was engaged in a tour of places of incarceration. There he observed the ways in which people reacted to the constraints of imprisonment and how their reactions could have something poetic about them.
His works in varied formats looks to seize these behaviours, to reveal ways of being that undress themselves before the regard behind judgment, walls and years, to make an inventory of deliberate hands and leftover traces. To hold on to a brick before throwing it, to scratch an inscription so as not to forget or be forgotten, to cook in a cell: in these are found only gestures of revolt.
Nicolas Daubanes acts in complicity with those who inspire him, generally in the margins and often with controversial subjects: such as Piranese the 18th century artist engraving views of imaginary prisons or of rappers like Booba. He collaborates with anonymous or anonymised detainees and also implicates his own family – tooth enamel or stardust – to maintain the link with his each and own.