The Last Stand

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The Last Stand

The Last Stand

Timing is everything in Marc Wilson’s photographs. “You maybe get ten minutes,” he says, “before the sun has come up above the horizon but you have some light, a very soft grey and blue.” The landscapes he shoots are similarly precarious. Wilson’s series The Last Stand documents the remains of coastal fortifications that lined Northern Europe during the Second World War — bunkers swallowed by the sea, pillboxes barely clinging to land, buildings ripped from their foundations and wrecked on the rocks — from Allied positions on England’s east coast and the far tip of the Northern Isles, to the once German-occupied archipelago of the Channel Islands and the remains of the Atlantikwall, the colossal Nazi defense network which stretched from Norway to Spain.

The series draws attention to places that were once vital to world affairs and have since been left to ruin, their histories obscured or forcibly erased. One photograph, taken in Wissant, France, depicts a bunker that was later declared a safety hazard and demolished by the local government. Wilson is adamant that the sites should be left untouched. He understands the desire to break with the past, he says, “but if you start removing all the physical reminders, then we’ll have no history left. I don’t think they should be preserved as such, but they need to be protected from a secondary human interaction. That natural process of time is important.” ..

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