2015 - Ongoing
During the Great War the area called Ypres Salient was theater of a terrible massacre. Almost half a million people died in the trenches and in No Man's Land between 1914 and 1918. In Ypres were used for the first time gas (the mustard gas is also call Yperite) and flamethrowers. Walking along the paths, trough the small woods of birches, following the curvy lines of the hills, the landscape nowadays so quiet and relaxing, reveals his tremendous past.
The soil regurgitates hundreds of metal's fragments: pieces of bombs, slivers of projectiles, rusty shrapnels. I used these splinters like bearings, to help me to find my way in this research.
Thanks to these particular compasses I was able to lift the veil and to cast a glance on the depht of the abyss.
To borrow the American earth artist Robert Smithson’s words: "each landscape, no matter how calm and lovely, conceals a substrata of disaster." And that terrible disaster is still visible in the countryside around Ypres; not only in the white graveyards or in the grey monuments but maybe more in the incessant combination between a quiet present and a so dreadful past. Country houses are builded on the no man's land, the hedges around the fields chase the lines of the trenches, the pond where the frogs croak is actually a bomb crater.
That landscape is a place of correspondence, of call and answer where visual resemblances of color, relief and texture abound. The line of an horse's back echoes the curvature of the fosses and also the trajectories of the bullets, lichens on a wall recall an aerial photograph of the battlefield. Everything link unexpectedly with each other, and so different times and worlds can be joined.
The german's writer Ernst Jünger have described these places as places where: "Nature seemed to be pleasantly intact, and yet the war had given it a suggestion of heroism and melancholy."
This project is my personal essay to reveal how a landscape can speak, while still remains mute, about the past.