A FILM MARKING THE CENTENARY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME 2016
A first visit takes place with the arrival of Spring, fertile and green. Roadside signs to the sites are well situated and can be read easily enough. The cemeteries themselves, appearing so arbitrarily dotted within the landscape, are shocking either in their intimate serenity or their exposed, stark brutality. ROSSIGNOL WOOD. SUNKEN ROAD. Entering each enclosure, there is always a sense of crossing a boundary. The efflorescence of nature creeps up to the external perimeter, ready to reclaim the ground, or else agricultural production spares a few centimeters of bare terrain before the marshalling begins, long ranks of headstones lined up in military formation. GUARDS. QUEENS. GUNNERS. One walks up and down the lines inspecting each headstone, feeling the imperative to take note of every single name, every inscription, every memorial, even though this is impossible. The more names are read, the less the imagination is able to make sense of the scale of destruction they represent. Names pile up as a monstrous accumulation of wasted potential. BITTER.
The repetition of the essential fact is exhausting. While the individual reproduction of each and every headstone with its measured naming of facts and acts serves the plea to not repeat past mistakes, mass formation acts to dull and abstract, reinforcing a failure of comprehension. Within the retaining walls which demarcate each site as a presence in absence, industrial efficiency and carefully designed spatial geometries monumentalize and petrify, neutralising the experiences that once took place around here.
Looking outwards for respite one sees the intensively worked landscape beyond, knowing that scattered material remnants of the violence still infuse the soil, surfacing over time and dissolving on the air perhaps, or finding their way back to an intimacy within our own bodies. Everyday sounds come to the ear, of tractor, birdsong, the clatter of bicycle and bark of dog. Occasionally a shot bursts out. Sounds travel far, such is the scope of the space. But within the boundary of the cemeteries there is always an atmosphere of silence. What is one straining to hear? A VANISHED SOUND
UNFOUND Susan Trangmar, film, 23:42
11h Sunday 9 October 2016Les Photaumnales
UNFOUND film projection Susan Trangmar and meeting with the artist. The film is accompanied by the publication UNFOUND including an essay ‘ A Memorial on Film’ by Yves Abrioux and DVD.
This body of work is the result of a residency proposed by Diaphane. It is edited as a DVD book and Susan Trangmar’s film will be shown during the Photaumnales festival.