October 31, 2013
Photography is well suited for representing something before time erases it.
An example is Marc Wilson’s landscape series The Last Stand consists of photographs of the physical remnants of war in the 20th century in the UK and northern Europe. These man made objects and zones of defence now sit silently in the landscape, imbued with the history of the recent past.
Marc Wilson, Studland Bay I, Dorset, England. 2011
Beginning with extensive two year period of research that encompassed over 200 potential locations across the UK and Europe; Wilson finally narrowed his research to 75 locations that he would photographed between 2010 and 2012 — during which time he would travel over 10,000 miles.
Marc Wilson, Les Landes, Jersey, The Channel Islands. 2013
The Last Stand consists of photographs of the network of military defences that are to be found dotted along the coast of the United Kingdom and northern Europe, and it is these fortified constructions — that vary in size from the anti-invasion obstacles found on many beaches to the vast gun emplacements of coastal defences----- still dot the coastlines of Britain and Europe.
Marc Wilson did not come to photography by following the normal route. It was whilst reading sociology at university [pursuing his studies in sociology] and studying the image as a means of communication between people, that his interest in photography started. What until then had been an object of research only, became the most appropriate medium allowing him to best explore this kind of history.
This large body of work came out of a project I photographed about six years ago that included in its locations two of these coastal defences. From this my interest was sparked and further research into the subject matter in 2010 led me to realise the importance of producing this work, both as a document to the physical structures and their place in the shifting landscapes surrounding them, and as a stimulus for thought and reflection on the histories, and memories of these places. Underlying all of this, and shared by many others I am sure, are also my own connections to this period of history and its effects on individuals, families and whole cultures.
Wilson works with a tripod based 5 x 4 large format (Arca-Swiss camera) camera, colour negative film (Fuji 160 or Kodak 160) and high resolution scans for printing. This is not straight documentary photography. It is one that explore how these military structures have become part of the fabric of the landscape. Coastal erosion and the passing of time have altered the defence structures. They are slowly decaying. These military installations have become silent and the images are melancholic