Teo Becher: Charbon Blanc

Teo Becher’s documentary work 'Charbon Blanc' feels like an unhurried stroll through the mountainous area of Maurienne’s valley in the French Alps. He takes his time to observe its pristine beauty, as well as areas with major industrial presence marked by a century-old production of aluminium. Interestingly, these two aspects of the area may intersect in the space of one and the same image with rust making its way through the landscape and mysterious light distortions introducing a sort of intrusion into the sublime scenery. And this subtle shift turns it into quite an ambiguous, poetic story.

About the project
Maurienne’s mountains are marked with ambiguities, contradictions, oppositions. Nicknamed “the aluminum valley”, space is mastered and exploited there. From the numerous factories that were once scattered along the Arc river, only one is remaining, bordered by a highway – one of the only in the Alps – and soon by a high speed train line that however has risen up opposition among the inhabitants, mainly after suspicions of corruption and pollution. Even if a few ski resorts dot the summits, the main part of the space in Maurienne stands in the uninhabitable, thus matching the romantic image of a pure and sublime nature.
At first, I’ve felt the need of a physical experience of the landscape. To be in the mountain, walk, breath. It became like roaming this uninhabitable, what can be felt only by foot, at the closest to the topography, immersed in the landscape.
Those two layers add and mix, like a recognition walk through the territory, to try and know every corner.

About the photographer
Teo Becher lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. He holds an MFA from KASKA in Antwerp, Belgium. Teo founds a deep interest in the image itself and how it is interpreted, especially through landscape photography. Even if his work can be described as documentary, fiction and subjectivity play an important part in reflecting on photography's ability to create representations or even myths.
In 2020, the series ‘Charbon blanc’ was awarded the Prix Maison Blanche and will be published as a book in October 2021.


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