Confinement RESPONSE 1- Group review



Sacha Assi


The Great Confinement by Michel Foucault


  • The houses of confinement were created during the classical period of the 17th century; when the biggest sin had become “the infernal triumph of Sloth”. It was proposed as a solution to handle an enormous amount of beggars. Instead of casting them out , whipping them or  killing them, the houses were supposed to play a dual role: “reabsorb” the unemployed and make an economic profit by making them work as cheap-labor. It wasn’t a genuine will to help “the sick”, but a motive for “power of segregation” and “an imperative of labor” in a time of European economic recessions.


  • Those concerned were the poor, the unemployed, prisoners and the insane; anyone of any sex and age that could be categorized under the following statement : “mendicancy and idleness as the source of all disorders”.


  • It is when the idea of madness we have today was born: outsiders, the poor and unemployed, the “sick” and different. Additionally, it corresponded with the first phases of industrialization where there was an obsession with productivity and work: it was the new way to redeem yourself and your sins.


  • Functionally speaking, the houses of confinement were a failure. Because of the huge access to cheap-labor, it messed with the production and retail prices. What was taken away in one area resurged into another one, as businesses and manufacturers struggled to keep up with the competition. 


  • “Negative measures of exclusion were replaced by a measure of confinement; the unemployed person was no longer driven away or punished; he was taken in charge, at the expense of the nation but at the cost of his individual liberty”. 
  • “ He had the right to be fed, but he must accept the physical and moral constraint of confinement”.
  • “Morality permitted itself to be administered like trade or economy”.



Hôpitaux Universitaires La Pitié Salpêtrière – Charles Foix


  • Lots of buildings and diversity.
  • “Maison de La Pitie” , 1612, was the main hospital that regrouped those around it. It used to be before that an Arsenal that made weapon powder.


  • Men and women were divided. In those times a hospital was built around religion. Everyone should be able to access the chapels.


  • It was a veritable area of confinement; nobody wanted to see the sick, the poor, the criminals and the “crazy” to spread their physical and mental behaviours.


  • It was a place that housed a lot of suffering. In 1684 was inaugurated a building built like a prison. It housed different categories of people, like prostitutes, crazy women “les folles” etc. The women were locked in cells, a lot of time flooded with water and rats even the guards didn’t want to get close.


  • In 1789, isolated chambers for each individual were inaugurated by architech Charles Francois Viel in the belief that insane patients will get better if we treat them better.

  • Jean Martin Charcaud was the first to see the insane and troubled as sick and not as guilty. It was in Salpetriere that he created the first research group of neurology. He humanized the hospitals.


  • Before the Revolution, a hospital was built around the church as religion was the center of everything. In 1903 however was built a secular school of female nurses as the separation of the State and Church was close (1905).


La Prison de Bicetre, une prison de l’Hopital General


  • Bicetre was built outside of Paris between Villejuif and Gentilly, which made it a much cleaner place than city hospitals. The castle before it had a very dynamic history, ebing the subject of property dispute during various wars. It’s ruins housed the delinquants and gave its miserable reputation.
  • Louis XIV’s 1656 law is what gave birth to the Hospital of Bicetre. He asked the confinement of the poor, the beggars, vagabonds, the alienated, prostitutes, sick and incurable, along with men, women and children for “correction”.


  • Along with La Pitie and Salpietre, main hospitals of L’Hopital General.


  • The prison was in itself a separate entity from the rest of the services. It had its own kitchen and church, and a lot of “correction” infrastructure.


  • From the end of the 17th century, it became the principal house of confinement of the beggars and criminals (including political opposition).


Saint-Lazare : 5e chronique sur les prisons disparues de Paris


  • During the 12th century, it used to be a treatment center for the Leper. In the 17th century, it became a correction center. In 1789, it became a Revolutionary prison. In 1794, it became a prison for women and prostitutes. It closes in 1932.


  • It had its own currency:


  • They used to hit the women as means of “correction”
  • It now is a media library.


Seoin Choe 

Shona Illingworth, Lesions in the Landscape, 2016


  • The video shows people trying to escape something. 
  • Shows abstract ways of warp in time, perception of time. For people who are running away from a bad situation, the time can feel longer than it is. And the background noise that is somewhat scary and grotesque also represents their emotions.
  • When will this maze end? When will this dark time end? The unending nightmare 


Anna Schuleit Bloom (2003)


  • Flowers growing again cause people’s not going out anymore, through the eyes of peoples in confinement, it could be seen as nature taking back it’s right against the human.


The Great Confinement, Burak Kum – experimental

  • History is always the same
  • We make children to be our future. Therefore, we educate the children in the way we think is the best way, but  we end up educating them in the same way, to be uniformed, to be more suitable to fit in our society.
  • But at the end, it’s always the same ending : war 
  • Despite the society, people always end up being alone. 
  • The confinement is the metaphor of this. We become isolated alone to reflect upon our history, and what it means to be part of the society. 


Gómez and González, Doing Time/Depth of Surface, 2012


  • Deconfinement. During the long time of isolation, the place had been aging, and isolated from the humane society.
  • Numbers of artists took paper and they layered the wall of prison inside. And they extracted outside the layer of the wall, by the taking the interior outside to exterior world
  • By the act of this presentation and putting it out in the world, flattening the wall outside of the prison, the act itself allows the interior to be presented to the world without people going into the actual world. This act is the metaphor of deconfinement. This represents the liberation of confinement that was trapped inside the place. 


Suzanne Lacy [methods of social engagement with marginalized people]


  • Suzan Lacy’s work is related to methods of social engagement with marginalized people. 
  • She makes them engaged in her art projects, and she makes them feel like they are part of the society. 
  • It’s kind of ironic to today’s societal situation. Governments encourage people to stay home, and people are engaged in social distancing, isolating themselves from socializing with people. While all the other countries are like that, Sweden is performing something different than the rest of the world. They are actually encouraging people to socialize, to build the communitie’s immunity. Rather than isolating. 
  • A lot of people say it’s better for their mental health, economy and others. Everything is working exactly the same as before this pandemic in Sweden. 
  • Despite the growing rate of coronavirus in Sweden, according to the survey, the community trust the government even more than they did before during this time.


Ana Curtin


  • Anna Schuleit, Habeas Corpus – site specific /community art – video

A sound installation by Anna Schuleit Haber at the former Northampton State Hospital (Mass.), for which the artist spent three years of getting permissions and building a team of volunteers to wire up the main building of the former Northampton State Hospital before its demolition, using the hollows of the architecture as if they were the hollows of an instrument. The building briefly, for 28 minutes, became a unified soundbody, reverberating and amplifying the sounds of J. S. Bach’s Magnificat (recorded by Philippe Herreweghe, Harmonia Mundi). Thousands of local residents and former patients, employees, and local residents attended the event, which also included a public forum for patients to tell their own stories of the hospital, and a symposium for doctors, nurses, and academics. Two exhibitions accompanied the events, and reviews included articles by Tim Page in the Washington Post and on NPR.


  • Large speakers were set up to illuminate the old hollow asylum with music.
  • A look at some of the past individuals who inhabited the Northampton State Hospital
  • Individual Kermit Simon was sticks out as an individual who has a fascination for these sort of institutions, collects items from them, and has been admitted into several himself (38 yrs old)
    • Funny line, when asked where he resides says “at the moment, due to a number of factors, i am a just a resident of the United States at large”
  • Humanizes mentally ill patients
  • Man talks about being put in restraints and seclusion
    • Says organization did good, he’s sober for 6 years
  • Woman put in constraints after falling out of bed having epileptic seizure
    • 24hr Male guard put in place (against law) and raped her
  • Embrace and reflection while music plays through the space
      • Kermit Simon, emotional embrace with the music
  • We have been confined only weeks in the comfort of our own homes and people in spaces like this have been confined for years on end with false ideas of rehabilitation
  • The space is hollow and blaring powerful classical music and gives a sense of freedom to those who suffered there


Shona Illingworth, Lesions in the Landscape, 2016


  • Images of birds flying, children running down path, and structural architecture
  • Very hard to hear audio 
  • “It feels like I’ve got no connections to the past”
  • Ominous music 
  • Sense of solitude, toll on mental and emotional health
  • How a sense of surroundings can disappear in confinement 


  • Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis, Madelon Vriesendorp, Zoe Zenghelis

Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture 1972 – archive


  • “intervention designed to create a new urban culture invigorated by architectural innovation and political subversion.”
  • Medium: Cut-and-pasted paper with watercolor, ink, gouache,
  • and color pencil on gelatin silver photograph
  • Digital design over London
  • “the series is a combination of vivid architectural imagery and “text/script”’
  • “alludes to West Berlin’s situation during the Cold War as a restricted enclave within East Germany, encircled by a forbidding wall—in effect, a prison on the scale of a metropolis, in which people sought refuge voluntarily.”
    • Reflective of Berlin’s history


  • Project Art Works is an artist led organisation working with children, young people and adults who have complex support needs –


  • Promotional work on a wide range of platforms 
  • A studio environments is replicated wherever it takes place
    • *ie in confinement*


  • Even if a user does not communicate with language, “interaction is expansive rather than reductive utilising gesture, sound, signing and empathy.”
    • There are ways to work around commicative barriers to create and share 
  • Gives people with special needs an opportunity to explore arts as a sort of therapy
    • I have to wonder how much a program like this costs and how privileged you need to be to enter a program like this. 
    • Exemplifies the reality that some individuals in society have needs that are more intensive and require more extensive care than others. The conditions we have to work within are relative and we are in uncharted territory where we have to navigate within certain circumstances
    • This is how these people live day to day
  • People who live with disabilities live in a reality of confinement
  • Possible Exploitation and commodification of mentally disabled people
  • The website was somewhat vague and I didn’t entirely understand the mission at first


Outside source*


  • Jason Decker Sloves has a physical disability that requires a walker and has been navigating New York City for over three years 


The Great Confinement by Michel Foucault


  • What was punishment for some was seen as relief/reward for less privileged others
  • Prison industrial complex—Culture of punishment rather than rehabilitation


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