The events that shook Tunisia during the revolution have not spared Tunisian prisons. They were the sad theater of mutinies, fires, escapes and abuses of all kinds. It was after these events that I was allowed to visit and get in touch with prisoners. That was the first time that such authorization was given, so far prisons were a highly secret closed world, one of the pieces of the dictatorial machine. What I saw and heard in the twelve prisons I have visited exceeded all what I could have imagined. I lived there an intense experience where there was no more outside or inside, nor good or bad, nor time or space but only men and women who have lost more than their freedom. Encaged like animals in dirty damp and cold cells, those men and women were also stripped of their dignity.
“Counfa” is a distortion of the term convoy. Prisoners use this word to refer to their transfer from one prison to another. As them, I moved from one prison to another. And I felt my foray into prison as a convoy through time and space, where the agreed benchmarks are lost to make way for the greatest paradoxes. To testify this trip, I chose to deliver in bulk images and sounds that overlap. The sad song evoking exile echoes the prisoner’s testimonies and the images stolen through the thick prison’s walls form as many colliding memories that question human being and men’s justice.
text by Hela Ammar