Burned Forest © Charles Xelot
Everywhere the forest is burning. In spite of the flames, the tree remains standing, as if defying time and death. It stands amidst the ashes as a witness to the destructive power of fire. Of its leaves and colours only a grey skeleton remains, forming a fascinating natural sculpture.
Gradually life will take its course, new plants will be born from the ashes and gradually the scars of the fire will disappear under the leaves. Yet the dead tree will still be there. It will raise its emaciated and lifeless body in the middle of the greenery and its mere presence will remind us of the fragility of life.
Death is omnipresent in photography: images of missing loved ones haunt our homes. Names sometimes forgotten and whose faces have long since faded from the memory of mankind. The dead are photographed, for the memory of their features, so as not to be forgotten.
Xelot's tree portraits are post-mortem photographs. After the fury of the flames and the accompanying journalistic maelstrom begins the slow reconstruction. Photography here serves our collective memory.
With the exception of lightning, it is man who is at the origin of all forest fires, directly or indirectly, through negligence or malevolence. This same fire, which allowed man to emerge from the cave and conquer the sky, has become uncontrollable and now threatens it with all its power.
Artificial light reminds us of the human dimension of these landscapes. Forest fires are a side-effect of human activity, so these devastated territories are a creation of man. "Like museum dioramas my photographs decontextualize the subject and create an idealized image of nature". This imaginary projection is a reflection of man's contemporary relationship with nature: the forest has become a space of fantasy. The weekly walks in these supposedly virgin spaces are like trips to museums.
"The light of my torch chases away the darkness of the night and reveals a landscape transfigured by time and fire".
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