/15 Mountains

Céline Clanet

Des Barrages et des Hommes en Savoie

“It is not until a building has assumed this character, till it has been entrusted with the fame, and hallowed by the deeds of men (…) that its existence can be gifted with language and life.”
John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, 1849

[“Dam and Man in Savoy”]
During one year, at the request of the FONDATION FACIM, and in close collaboration with Electricité De France, I walked the roads and the vast network of hydropower in the Beaufortain area, Savoy (French Alps).I climbed a few hills, explored every corner of the power plants, scrutinized every detail of the machines, and went through forbidden doors. From a Pelton turbine detail, to a large vision of a dam melted in the Alps mountains, I have punctuated these images with portraits of witnesses from the dams’ construction days.
Several times, I happened to find myself alone with these “quiet fortresses”, especially under inclement or snowy weather. During several hours, I walked tirelessly around the high pastures, or along the water reservoirs, the vault, looking for the best picture possible. Alone with these monumental constructions for miles around, I established a special relationship with them, almost intimate. In our mutual silence, I absorbed their impressive and reassuring presence, their high mountain fortified castles looking. And those great “shelters”, mine for a few hours, then kindly revealed to me some of their secrets.