‘Dead Time’ is wasted time? Mohamed Bourouissa’s Photo-work with Prison Inmate ‘Al’

‘Dead Time’ is wasted time? Mohamed Bourouissa’s Photo-work with Prison Inmate ‘Al’
26 May 2020, 2.00pm - 3.30pm

Confinement in French and Francophone Literature

Speaker: Andy Stafford (Leeds)

French-Algerian photographer nominated in 2018 for the Prix Marcel Duchamp, Mohamed Bourouissa is renowned for his posed portraits of Parisians in the suburbs (Périphériques, 2005-2009), in which the contrapuntal captions radically reorder the staged images of the banlieue. But in his next project, Temps mort [Dead Time] (2007-2009, published in 2014), Bourouissa works secretly (because it is against the law in France) with his friend ‘Al’, who is in prison and taking photographs of the inside, which he then sends to Bourouissa alongside a series of text-messages. Comprised of irregular blank pages, selective quotations from Al’s elliptical messages and a stylised blurring of images, Bourouissa’s photobook Temps mort plays out the ‘dead time’ that being in prison represents. The project explores the ways in which prisoners might remain in contact with the outside world, can be mentally present whilst temporarily absent. Furthermore, Bourouissa’s (and Al’s?) photobook points to new options, in the era of social media and portable telephones, for today’s photobook design.

Andy Stafford is a specialist of the work of Roland Barthes. He has published a study of the French photo-text of the 1990s (Liverpool University Press 2010), as well as articles on Raymond Depardon, André Bazin, Leïla Sebbar, Marc Garanger, and Gérard Macé. His chapter on the early sociology of Abdelkebir Khatibi will be appearing in the Autumn (ed. Khalid Lyamlahy and Jane Hiddleston), and a chapter on Abdellatif Laâbi’s prison poetry is due to appear in a volume on confinement. He is senior lecturer at the University of Leeds and was recently a visiting professor at the University of Paris-13.

This event will be held online, at 14:00 UK time. Please note that it is essential that you register in advance to join the event. 

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Cathy Collins
020 7862 8738