Eternity Has No Door of Escape: Encounters with Outsider Art

Directed by Arthur Borgnis

80 minutes / Color/B&W
French / English subtitles
Release: 2018
Copyright: 2017

"Outsider art" challenges established historical categories and transcends artistic movements. A translation of the French term art brut, a phrase coined by the painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet in the aftermath of World War II, this label was applied to works produced by artists suffering from mental illness, practitioners of Spiritism, and self-taught visionaries. Their work compels viewers to question aesthetic and cultural norms, and the place attributed to those with disabilities in our society.

Drawing its title from a celebrated exhibition of the work of collectors Jean-David Mermod and Philippe Eternod at Switzerland's Gottardo Art Gallery, ETERNITY HAS NO DOOR OF ESCAPE traces the tumultuous history of art brut and introduces us to its pivotal figures, including psychiatrist and art collector Dr. Hans Prinzhorn; curator Harald Szeemann; and Surrealist artist and writer André Breton. Its expert interviewees adding context and background to the history of art brut include writers Déborah Couette, Laurent Danchin, Savine Faupin, Thomas Röske and Michel Thevoz; curators Lucienne Peiry and Carine Fol; artists Michel Nedjar; psychiatrists Béatrice Steiner and Andreas Altorfer and more.

Using a treasure trove of rare archival footage, much of it previously unseen, the film brings viewers to the places and institutions in France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium where the history of "Outsider Art" unfolded and continues to unfold today.

Arthur Borgnis' documentary invites viewers to lose themselves in the universes beyond logic and reason, in the works of artists including Adolf Wölfli, Aloïse Corbaz, Augustin Lesage and August Natterer. ETERNITY HAS NO DOOR OF ESCAPE: ENCOUNTERS WITH OUTSIDER ART introduces enigmatic, challenging creators; raises questions about the definition and purpose of art; and draws attention to a fascinating and essential realm too often overlooked by history.

"Highly Recommended! Absorbing subject-matter and multi-faceted perspective. Gives thorough examination to art brut’s founding artists, [works, and] cultural contexts in which art brut found its original meaning." —Jeanette Aprile, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Recommended! An excellent history of what is called outsider art or, to use the French term, art brut… a splendid introduction to a fascinating byway in the course of art history." —Frank Swietek, Video Librarian

"In spite of the density and richness of the material it covers, ETERNITY HAS NO DOOR OF ESCAPE leaves ample space for discovery, wonder, and contemplation. Offering a comprehensive, nuanced summary of the history of outsider art in a documentary is no small feat." —Raphael Koenig, Raw Vision Magazine

"Encourages us to question the mysteries of artistic creation." —Sens Critique

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Select Accolades

  • 2019 Western Psychological Association
  • 2018 Fine Arts Film Festival
  • 2017 Art Brut, University of Lausanne
  • 2017 Outsider Art Symposium, Dusseldorf University


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