A study in two tone


Shapes, lines, symmetry. Texture and contrast. That’s what black-and-white photography loves. A non-distraction of colour promotes a clarity of line. And without distraction, the tonal shades and shadows in-between begin to play mind tricks on you … creating optical illusions. Above: design flair in Provence.


Nuclear warfare? The Apocalypse? A warning against toxic gases used in combat? I was perplexed when we encountered this sculpture outside Digne-les-Bains, Provence. Hours and hours of trawling the Web produced not a single photo or reference to it. Until today. Great elation! I discovered an online French news article with a photo and a report.


Below is a loose translation of the words spoken by the sculptor of the work, Benoît de Souza:

In memory of two firefighters … who died on 3 November 2012 while trying to control a fire at a residential building in Digne. The pair of sculptures rises vertically from two rods, like sentinels facing Le Cousson peak, symbolic giants of their ascent-focused work — always mentally and physically equipped to climb buildings or trees or towers. Yann, armed with a fireman’s axe, places his hand on the shoulder of his friend, Michaël, who carries a spear, as if to accompany Yann inexorably toward a tragic destiny. Their helmets are hollowed out and empty, as are the metal tubes representing their bodies, their spirits are elsewhere … although still very much present.