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“If life is art and art is life, an arts center must breathe.”

Brendan Seibel for Vingt profiles FACE French/American Creative Exchange, collective in the depressed northern reaches of Paris, set up by Monte Laster, an immigrant from Texas. The project’s centerpiece is the transcendence of the individual above the proscribed traps of generalization:

“A far-reaching social experiment threading together disparate populations is set to commence. Prisoners will join their wardens, expectant mothers will join school children, rappers will join poets, all in an effort to examine how environmental conditions reflect people’s expression.”

What I like most about FACE isn’t just that it’s community arts, but that prisons are considered as a matter of course part of the community. That’s a refreshing alternative to prevailing attitudes elsewhere which think of prisons as dumping grounds; sites to be ignored, buried, distanced.

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