Photographs by Gilbert Fastenaekens. Text by Catherine Mayeur.
56 pp., 21 black & white illustrations., 12½x15¾".
When I first started coming ot the Vauclair forest in 1988, to this place on the plains of Champagne, some 30 kilometers norht of Reims, with the crest of the Chemin des Dames running across it, I knew nothing about the land, nothing about its history and its special topography scarred by the wounds of war. I have gone back year after year ever since, often in the bleak grey of winter. I purposefully keep to a narrow strip in the huge state forest, a thirty-by-a-hundred-meter strip whose bounds I randomly set to put an end to the feeling that I wasn't in the right place and that I might just as well be somewhere else. I opted for heavy equipment that makes it hard ot move around and scour the territory. So I stay where I am, on five square meters of land for hours on end. I resist the feverish impluse to photograph the anecdotal, the picturesque, or sudden changes in the light. I also withstand the wearing effects of time telling me that I'm on familiar ground, that I've been omcing here for so long that there's nothing left for me to do here. After a while of just being there, I cease expecting anything, I forget why I've come and all thoughts of fleeting or urgency disappear. In those rare moments, strong, peaceful sensations well up inside me that makes me feel entirely inside the present of things, I feel, very much in spite of myself, as if I am becoming the land, the tree, the rock, an element in the landcape, accepting the present time for what it is and in so doing revealing its sense. I am flowing along with it and I humbly feel that the symbolic passage from the temporal to the spatial dissipates the ephemeral to indicate only the present point of time and pace.
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