These new works are preparatory pieces created during lockdown research towards a new long term social engagement with the small town of Grandpré in rural France. Inspired by seven German WWI negatives bought from eBay – and online research to identify the location – I began collecting postcards from the same place and period sent home by German soldiers. The project has a working title of La Vojo Returne (the Esperanto title for ‘The Road Back’, taken from a first edition translation of the novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque, from my personal collection. This book is widely regarded as a study in post-war contemporary malaise.
Unable to visit with current travel restrictions, these pieces have begun a dialogue around ‘a sense of place’ with Grandpré inhabitants, through the juxtaposition of the postcards’ liminal spaces and their infra-ordinary translated Sütterlin messages. At a time when we need to quietly reflect on what it is to be human, especially during these times of a collective post-pandemic and political introspection. I have begun to work on translating the cards, and conversing with residents in Grandpré to inform research and understanding of this landscape, how a memory of place and its experience informs a sense of self, in advance of making new photographic work there in 2022.