To coincide with the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Reader in Fine Art and visual artist Susan Trangmar has created a film concerned with the contemporary experience of the former battleground.
Commissioned by French photo agency Diaphane, Susan set out to create a piece of work that would take a different approach to the documentation of the infamous World War One battle already underway. Influenced by the nature of personal memory, the film engages with the current landscape of the Somme region and centres on the ongoing process of engraving the headstones that fill the battlefields.
“It is these surfaces, eroded by the action of light, wind and rain, and constantly subject to the erasure of time, that hold this landscape to its past.” – Susan Trangmar
To mark the soldiers’ details and cause of death, headstones were engraved with a standard text commissioned by the Commonwealth, but families were also given the opportunity to write their own personal texts. Focusing on this act of engraving throughout the film, Susan presents it as a reiterative method of remembrance that continues to evoke personal and involuntary commemoration of the tragedies.
During the making of the film, entitled UNFOUND, Susan was based in Albert, a town in the middle of the Somme, which during the battle acted as a central passing point for all the allied forces. By engaging with the landscape, the film asks its viewers to acknowledge the inevitable distance from the weight of historical events, while allowing for the painful fact that something or someone has gone missing.