Sunday, 1 June 2008
flickr favourites #5
Le monument aux victimes civiles fusillées en 1914
Since I don't really take myself serious as a photographer (I like taking photos, but nothing more than that), I don't really take time to share my photos in the pools set up on Flickr, but yesterday I got a comment on one of my photos of a war memorial in Tourcoing, asking if I'd like to add it to a new Flickr pool dedicated to Monuments aux Morts -- French War Memorials, usually dedicated to those who died during the First World War.
There's some really striking images in this new pool, and I hate to make any generalisations as to why French memorials are so stunning, but please have a look through the photos. On the Wikipedia entry for War Memorials', you get an impression of all the different kinds of War Memorials different countries have erected over the years.
With 'On Passing the Menin Gate' by Siegfried Sassoon in mind, I have to say that those big plaques listing the names of those who died, make me feel terribly uncomfortable. I think that, in a way, those long, long lists of names do little to really focus on all of the lives lost -- the names are there, but that's it. I think the statues that really depict people, like the one in BrigitteChanson's photo, bring across a much stronger, universal image of grief and mourning, without being clichéd. It's important to honour the soldiers who died, of course, but memorials like the one in Tourcoing make you remember why it's important.
That memorial in Tourcoing is the most beautiful memorial I've ever seen, it reminded me of 'The Raft of the Medusa' by Théodore Géricault -- walking around the statue you go from seeing the wounded and dying soldiers at the base of the statue to the struggling, and as they get nearer to the top, the soldiers walk more upright and it ends with (I suppose) Victoria or Nike on her horse leading them to triumph. I suppose at the end of the day it's still a form of wartime propaganda, but still, it's quite immense.