Cette montagne c’est moi, This mountain that’s me.
The project (2006 :->)
In January 2006 Witho Worms started to photograph ‘terrils’ or slagheaps in various countries in Europe. These mountains are the visual remnants of the coal mining industry. The black pyramids are the symbols of a vanishing era that began with the industrial revolution and has now evolved into an age dominated by binary code.
There is a sense of ambiguity about these heaps. The steep slopes and dark tones give them a unnatural appearance. In the photographs of the terrils, one can imagine the harsh living conditions of the workers, who once constructed the mountains, as well from the pioneering plants and trees who are now conquering a new territory. He documents a fascinating play of the changing relationship between man and his environment. What once was perceived as wasteland have become centres for leisure and natural parks.
What can be said about industrial production in Europe can also be said about the photographic technique he uses. For this project Witho has reformulated the 19th century technique of carbon printing. From every mountain he photographs he takes some coal, grinds it into a pigment which he then uses to print his negatives. Each photograph has been ‘contact’ printed. Various shades of browns and blacks reflect the specific constitution of the terrils. All photographs differ in size. The almost uniform shapes of these landscapes are translated into an individual approach which give them all a specific character. In this work object and subject, mountain and photograph, have become one. The photographs show us the socio-political reality of the last 100 years. They reflect the changing relationship between man and his environment in such a way that mind and matter are closely tight together.