The haunting images from The Last Stand capture all that remains of a desperate time.
The fallen structures photographed so elegantly by Marc Wilson are peaceful now… with a quiet beauty… as if caught in a moment of repose.
Decades ago they were nervous outposts… defenders of destiny… thick with the weapons of war.
These images are from a personal book project by landscape photographer Marc Wilson. His previous effort focused on abandoned places, this one exhibits fortifications from WWII. He’s seeking funding to continue this work and you can find out more at Emphas.is, a site devoted to funding photojournalism projects. That’s exciting in itself.
Marc’s project took him across Europe, searching for the crumbling bulwarks set up to defend against Hitler’s war machine. In the last three years he’s traveled to 80 sites along the coastlines of the UK, France and Belgium to capture these images.
From an interview in Culture 24, “It’s imagery that makes you think and reflect. As well as being about wartime defences it’s about the landscape.”
Were they successful? You may have read about the Maginot Line – that seemingly impenetrable barrier of artillery, troops and weaponry constructed to keep the German Army off French soil.
A ten year project and holding thousands of men, the Maginot Line system of forts and fortifications was connected by an under-ground railway. It was one of the great construction projects of the era. When the Germans launched their invasion, they just went around it. France fell about six weeks later.
I’ve heard it said that war planners are always fighting the last war. Perhaps there’s a lesson for us in all these ruins.
Here’s a video pitch describing The Last Stand on Emphas.is
Marc, from the Culture 24 interview:
“It’s interesting if I can find imagery that people have a sense of recognition of, but still don’t really know what it’s about. I think that’s why I tried to shoot them in the light I have chosen – without dramatic sunsets or sunrises.”
“I’ve tried to make them soft and subtle, to draw the viewer in. It’s about a sensitive subject so I want to create images that are very powerful and moving and reflective.”
Marc’s imagery reminds me of Percy Shelley’s poem Ozymandias.
I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away."
The Last Stand makes me think about those times, the enormous effort to construct and man these structures and how nature seems to reclaim what man creates. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.