memorial de la paix verdun / peace memorial verdun (2006)
mémorial de la paix pour commémorer l’anniversaire
de la bataille de Verdun.
marelle / Himmel und Höle (The Hopscotch)
A memorial of peace for commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of Verdun.
For sure, I didn’t experience war. I was too young for living through it directly. Yet, it has been part of my own history. Indeed, my paternal grand father died during the Second World War and he left two orphans: my uncle and my father. My maternal grand-father, for his part, waged the First World War. He died when I was about ten years old and in fact I well remember him. He became asthmatic after being gassed and he had a very blue glance, lost in thoughts. He used to tell, in snatches, his souvenirs from war, and my mother usually wrote them in a scholar copybook. I listened to this man who always let me win draughts, what pleased me and what certainly pleased him too.
A long time after his death, I read again the copybook which was plenty of his souvenirs and also some letters he had sent from the front. When I read the horrible things that were written, I could do anything but being submerged by an irrepressible urge to cry. This man was as upset as I am about what he had to do and what he had witnessed. But, through his writings, we feel anger more against the war than against the enemy.
Later on, as I live in Strasbourg, I managed to find testimonies of the Great War. This time, they were about German soldiers who had fought. At that moment, Alsace belonged to Germany and most of the time families had their origins in the two sides of the frontier and they had been separated. Men had been sent to the front and women, children and parents remained and worried about their relatives’ life.
My memorial project deals with the idea of postal cards and correspondences between soldiers and their families from both sides of the front. These correspondences are moments when humanity regains its rights, when children write to a father, when women write to a husband or a lover, when parents write to a son. These writings are sentences which were very far from the official propaganda of the time, which aimed at preserving the good moods of the population. These words are bits and pieces of lives which would inspire peace for regaining a normal life.
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