Commune Communicate

Studio Orta - 0400
Studio Orta - 0400
Studio Orta - 0400
Studio Orta - 0400
Studio Orta - 0400

Date: 1996
Ref: 0400
Matériaux: Wood, laminated C-print, bromure, walkman, audio recording, 4 sets of postcards, silkscreen print, leather handle. The installation contains a set of 4 suitcases and 4 folding tables, and various audience prompts
Dimensions: Suitcase: 50 x 40 x 10cm each. Folding tables: 200 x 6 x 90cm
Catalogued: Lucy Orta, 2002. London: Phaidon Press; Lucy Orta: Process of Transformation, 1996. Paris: Editions Jean-Michel Place
Exhibition history: 2005 Barbican Art gallery, The Curve, London; 1997 Casino Luxembourg; 1966 Metz Detention Centre and Metz city centre, France
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta

Commune Communicate assembles a series of objects created in collaboration with residents of CP Metz, a penitentiary centre in the North West of France. Lucy Orta spent several weeks with a small group of inmates discussing their daily routine, what they missed and their aspirations for the future. She recorded the conversations and documented their surroundings, meaningful objects and the 19 security doors that seperate the inmates from life outside the walls of the prison.

Lucy and Jorge Orta created a series of 'relational objects' to display the results of the workshops in the public space, and to facilitate conversations with passers-by. The objects include Perimeter Communication Units, a set of folding tables made from re-purposed painter and decorator tables and 19 Doors Dialogue Units, simple hand-made boxes resembling attaché cases containing compartments for postcards and a Walkman, an audio device with the edited transcriptions of the conversations at CP Metz.

The ad hoc display of the incongruous objects in the busy streets of Metz purposely attracted attention. Passers-by were invited to listen to the voices of the inmates, to take a postcard from the wooden box and to write a response back. The postcards were collected at the end of the day and posted to the inmates, thus a dialogue was infiltrated through the walls of the detention centre. 

The work was commissioned by FRAC Lorraine (France) in collaboration with the centre for contemporary art Casino Luxembourg as part of public engagement project entitled 'Actions Urbaines' taking place throughout the city of Metz. To culimate 'Actions Urbaines', Commune Communicate was exhbited in the visitor centre inside CP Metz for all inmates and families to view, and the post card messages were subsequently broadcasted on the internal TV channel.