‘Tis blood—my blood—
My brother’s and my own! and shed by me!
Then what have I further to do with life,
Since I have taken life from my own flesh?
Lord Byron, Caïn (1821)
La maison de Caën (1999-2005) is a body of photographic work and a sound installation created as a pilgrimage towards the world of passion crime, it encircles it but remains always still at its gate.
It was produced in places related to homicide: police headquarters, jails, detention rooms, morgue, courthouse, museum of crime, archives, vehicles, prison in construction, prison transformed into animal hospital,…and the city, the backdrop of passion crime.
This documentary and fiction photographic material, live recordings and accounts of six different cases of homicide, of one prison architect & of one prison warden, compose an environment that bring us closer to the confines of Caïn's world.
La maison de Caën explores that thin demarcation line separating us from the irrationality of murder and a cosmos we can never enter, unless we cross that gate & become Caïn!
La maison de Caën (1999-2005) è un lavoro fotografico e un'installazione sonora creata come un pellegrinaggio verso il mondo del crimine passionale, lo accerchia ma rimane fermo sempre al di fuori dell suo ingresso.
È stato prodotto in luoghi legati all'omicidio: la centrale della gendarmeria, il carcere, stanze di detenzione, obitorio, palazzo di giustizia, prigioni, museo del crimine, archivi, veicoli, carcere in costruzione, carcere trasformato in ospedale per animali, ... e la stessa città dove vive tutto un mondo legato al crimine passionale.
Questo materiale fotografico di documentazioni e di staging, registrazioni live e resoconti di sei diversi casi di omicidio, di un architetto di prigione e di un guardiano carcerario, compongono un ambiente che ci avvicina ai confini del mondo di Caino.
La maison de Caën esplora quella linea di demarcazione sottile che ci separa dall'irrazionalità dell'omicidio e da un cosmo che non potremo mai entrare, a meno che non attraversiamo quella porta e diventiamo Caino!
The photos were printed @ Photolab in Athens, on duratrance & fuji paper.
"If, say in the sky, in this vast space, I saw a single star, if there had been hope as tiny as a star is, what happened would not have happened. Total darkness. No light. Everything is off", M. said about the murder of her 14 year old daughter.
The project La maison de Caën is mostly an effort to give soul and body to the expression of this human need to install a bridge between the two sides: the inaccessible world of Caen and us.
Koridallos Prison, Athens.
"During a transfer, the police van stopped at a red light. I saw through the window,
a classmate on his moped. He was waiting for the green light. I watched his eyes.
And that's when I realized the infinite distance between us.
I felt a longing through him, and regret for the life that I have lost.
I wanted to call him "George", but I could not."
The Architect: "The life that they will be living here is manufactured by us.
The only thing we do not know is their faces."
A bank reflects a deconstruction of the police headquarters.
They lock me because I killed."
There is a place for all, in the police records, on the 7th floor of 173, Alexandras Avenue.
The lobby of the court, an artificial calm.
My encounter with Cain takes place in the space of one common presence,
in the world of passion, guilt and destruction.
"When they took me to the police station, I thought they would let me go home.
I thought that was the prison", said an old woman who murdered her son.
"I took a shower because I was covered in blood.
I changed my clothes and I left the house as I was leaving every time."
Separation is also the encounter of two different paths.
"It was during the day at 11:30 am. In the street it was!
She was pregnant and the child inside her was like a commodity."
"An average man with average intelligence, this is me. I am not different in any way from millions of other men. This crime has changed my life. And as if I had died that September, too."
At police headquarters, on the 7th floor, a deaf cry bouncing off piles of archives, in a jungle of ivy.
"During transfers, I always ran for the window on the side of the van.
I never looked out the back window."
At the morgue, a graveyard in the balance!
The morgue, a piercing smell of cleanliness & blood.
"They never look at us as human beings but as a "huge mistake."
Jack Kerouac: "When God says, "I lived", we’ll all have forgotten what rhymed all these separations."
"The first thing I thought was "that no one learns!"
I poured a glass of water and wiped my fingerprints."
P. confessed to her murder almost one year after stabbing M., a secretary at a private company of loans.
"They took my fingerprints, I washed my hands and I realized that there was no way back!"
"I have a tape with his voice. It can not be heard well ... A photo, a paper with his writing.
The transistor that had been on our bedside table, his pack of cigarettes from that night.
There's his blood on it."
Police headquarters, Athens.
The murder weapon.
General Court, Evelpidon, Athens.
Museum of criminology, Athens.
“Today I had a visit from my children. The youngest asked me to make something for him.
That’s why I say that now I have to make a bicycle that flies.”
Sacred Letters engraved on the window of a prison.
Female prison, Korydallos, Athens.
The little mirror on the cell's wall.
"Often I wonder if of one man's fall there are great lifts?"
Even in prisons class distinctions exist and therefore detention conditions.
"I got out of Prison full of hope...
I was impressed by pedestrian bridges.
My old clothes seemed to me ridiculous."
Fugitive, handed himself over to authorities.
"Prison, a monastery without faith."
In the kitchen of the prison ward of Korridalos in Athens, this image reminded, oddly,
some ancient monasteries, seen a year earlier at Mount Athos.
"When I arrived, it was Dec. 17, a Thursday, the day when women come from the parishes.
As Christmas approached, they had brought gifts. And when they gave me the gift, I could not accept it.
It impressed me that people can forgive me what I had done."
"A red light, a second before or after, that was enough to never encounter. And why I followed him?"
"I took away a life for nothing, I killed for a word."
"The person who lives with me now consider this as a fairytale.
That's how he sees it, a fairytale of the past."
The project La maison de Caën questions the world of the murderer without complacency,
shows the fragility of our rational will, confronts the absurdity of the crime, casts doubt on its field, evokes it without representations, affirms its failure and its horrors,
and interrogates its constant pain.
"Immediately afterwards I felt lighter … With immense relief, something flew in me,
it was as if I did not touch the ground. It felt as if I was flying.
And it lasted a infinitesimal time, few seconds."
Immediately afterwards, he never went back home.
He spent the first night under a tree on the hills of Aspropirgo.
He then buried there the murder weapon, a knife that had been bought and given by his victim.
At dawn he stood up with dried blood on his clothes
and returned to the city to surrender to the police.
Casa AUT (Sicilia) - November 2011
wip5 - Greece (August 2009)
Zero91 - Italy (September 2009)
ΝΟΜΙΚΗ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΙΚΗ - Greece (2015)