Céline Clanet

Céline Clanet (1977) was born and raised in the French Alps. A graduate from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie of Arles, she has been working since 2005 on the Lapland territory and people. Her «Máze» photographic series has been awarded with several prizes in Europe and USA, including the Critical Mass Book Award in 2009 (USA). Published and exhibited in Europe and abroad, her photographic work is part of the Société Française de Photographie Collection, the Archives Départementales de Savoie, the Portland Art Museum Collection (USA), and several private collections. She currently lives in Paris, France. Today we take a look at her series Chapieux, Geography of a Secret.

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Chapieux, Geography of a Secret

“The mountain provides an ambivalent feeling: that of constantly meeting it for the first time, and that of having known it strangely from time immemorial. Seasons, sky, and every hour of the day, continually shape a different surface. Similarly, each meter walked makes it new, revealing a peculiar angle.
 The mountain is a visual paradox, a multiplicity of fleeting appearances, embodied in a complete and silent immobility.

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The Chapieux valley plays with this ambiguity.
 It happens to be the theatre stage of a wild ballet, danced by passing men. Those who inhabit it, exploit it, shape it with their harrows and their animals, and those who skim the tops or trails for a few hours. These populations, which coexist but never meet, will always be passing: they draw lines, follow trails or tan mountainsides’ skin. The set, out of the mists of time, this “primal Creation ossuary” as Alexandre Dumas once wrote, will stay there, unchanging.

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At the end of autumn, the Chapieux valley empties out. Unable to stay there due to recurrent avalanches, the residents and their herds settle down to a lower place, for a few months. Climbers then venture there very rarely, choosing safer routes. Winter covers everything. The valley becomes prohibited, and gets a moment of freedom, wild and intimate. A seasonal modesty.

© Céline Clanet

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I imagine a silence raising from the low pastures, up to the Aiguille des Glaciers, bow of the valley. I imagine all the pictures I could not make, the snowy routes I could not take; the secret light that surely caresses the Seigne mountainsides, and the deafening echo of heavy snow slides. I imagine the vibrant darkness of night, this impossible high mountain’s blackness, when mineral world is covered with deaf whiteness, reflecting a clear sky. The forbidden show of a winter landscape that I believe to be flamboyant, and that I will not get a sight of.”

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© Céline Clanet

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In addition, Céline has published 4 monographs: «Les Chapieux, Géographie d’un Secret» (Actes Sud, France, 2014), «Des Barrages et de Hommes en Savoie» (Actes Sud, France, 2011), «Máze» (Photolucida, USA, 2010) and «Un Mince Vernis de Réalité» (Filigranes, France, 2005).

To view more of Céline’s work, please visit her website.

Céline is also a featured artist in our newest issue From Here On. Pre-order your copy now!



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