2018, 1 channel film installation, 23:02 minutes


“In an obscure light worthy of Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, this documentary intrudes into a reading group of a prison with the appearances of clandestine role play. Each character, masked and hooded, remains anonymous. The division, fragmented in close-ups, reinforces the impression of dissociation of voices and bodies. The identities can be interchanged: the reader borrows the identity of the character of a novel at the same time that the work itself borrows the voice of its reader. This image is prolonged by the recurrent voice-over that evokes the emerging ghosts of the Sea of Lost Time (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) possessing the living to resurface. The texts, sometimes surreal and powerfully evocative, resonate with the situations experienced by the prisoners. The stories of shipwrecks, trials, ghosts are all reminiscences of free speech. Voices read, tell, respond, debate, or break in a sob. Taken in a perpetual night where the effervescence of the discussions seems uninterrupted, Permeating Hearts affirms that it is at the margin that society is written, and by its wounds that it autopsies...”

- Raphaëlle Irace, FIDÉ Festival international du documentaire émergent, Paris, FR

What happens if you read together with a group of male inmates for two months? The short stories, from South America to the Balkans, are read in parallel at the bottom of the sea and inside a Belgium prison. Reading together binds, divides, leads us into the unknown and upsets the order of things. What can we learn about ourselves by reading fiction with prisoners? Can reading together lead to more constructive dialogues in our society? How much fiction do we need to survive? What does it mean to be imprisoned today? How much of ourselves can we recognize in the inmates’ conversations and personal reflections of the stories? And finally, what are we capable to imagine beyond our ‘personal prisons’?

Permeating Hearts (2018) is an experimental documentary, in which prisoners’ conversations and reflections, which are prompted by the shared reading of fiction literature, are weaved into a new story that asks us to expand the limits of our perception and imagination, and therefore, see, think and feel with multiple eyes.

The film is part of the Reading Cycle, a long-term exploration in the political potential of interpretive communities around shared reading of fiction literature with a series of film works.


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