Saint-Étienne has drawn from its subsoil the resources that have given its prosperity, 500 million tons of coal have been extracted in 6 centuries. The mining industry has shaped the city’s landscape, leaving a legacy of numerous vestiges, including the slag heaps. They are mounds formed by the accumulation of waste from the mining industry : they are made up of unusable rocks, taken out of the ground at the same time as the coal.

Abandoned since the 1970s, the slag heaps, places of accumulated waste, have today taken on the appearance of green hills. The Metamorphic series explores these new reliefs which establish an ambiguous relationship with the ground, time and space. In their work, Cendre collaborates with the slag heaps. Each image in the series has been altered or produced by this particular environment. Cendre involves slag heaps directly on photosensitive materials by burying the film in the slag heap or using soil samples to reveal patterns and colors.

The slag heap’s ecosystem acts on the supports to reveal what is not visible – a particular chemistry, an extremophile environment. The images are then transformed by the subject itself. In the soil of the heaps, Cendre looks for signs, messages, like so many windows, revealing other ways of seeing living beings. The slag heaps question the interconnection between humans and non-humans, this time-space to stay with the trouble, on a damaged land. Capturing this environment is capturing the strangeness of an environment that did not exist before the start of mining. These new landscapes, once watched with pride, today abandoned like a distant memory, have become hills like the others.

Métamorphique, adj (in English, metamorphic) : that has undergone transformation, exhibiting structural change. Marked by metamorphosis.

Currently available on The Darkroom Rumour


Les Ruines de ce rêveThe Ruins of this dream (2022)

What is left when all the wood has been cut down, the coal extracted, the oil drawn up? Lands once coveted are simply abandoned. 

Yet, in the ruins of industry, a new world is growing. The non-human seizes the remains and transforms them into something intriguing, frightening, but above all, fascinating.

The film exists on three different media: paper (160 A4 of 9 cyanotypes each), digital file (.mov file) and 16mm film.

Board 54/160, cyanotypes on watercolor paper 300g, 21x29,7 cm (2022)
Board 104/160, cyanotypes on watercolor paper 300g, 21x29,7 cm (2022)
They burn, film souped in rainwater, soil from the slag heaps and plants, winter (2021)
Spring - winter - summer, film souped in rainwater, soil sample from the slag heaps and plants from the different seasons (2021 and 2022)
On the ground, altered film, summer (2022)
Mysteries from the slag heaps, filter paper and silver nitrate, soil chromatographies, unfixed (2021 and 2022)
Buried landscape - house, film buried into the slag heap (2022)
Signs from the slag heaps, anomalies 8, 7 and 5, details from the buried film (2022)
Buried landscape - stadium, film buried into the slag heap (2022)
Blue film, film souped in rainwater, soil and a fungi found under a birch, unexposed (2022)
Blue message I, film souped in rainwater, soil and a fungi found under a birch, unexposed (2022)
Yellow message, film souped in rainwater, soil and crystals found in the slag heaps (2022)