As an odd reminiscence, all across Europe stand vestiges of its Industrial Revolution. During the 18th century, as population kept on increasing, new techniques were developed to produce more, faster and at a lower cost. This wave of radical changes culminated in the development of railways, which gave a strong impulse to the entire economy by reducing distances. One of greatest vestiges – however unknown – of the Industrial Revolution lies in Paris. La Petite Ceinture is a dormant railroad track, a 32km path surrounding the city of light. Its construction, seen as an invitation to progress, was decided in 1852 by Napoleon III. Traffic reached its apogee with the Universal Exhibition featuring the Eiffel Tower in 1901. However, its operation wouldn’t survive the automobile revolution, nor the advent of the underground system. Indeed, urban passenger service discontinued from 1934. Oddly enough, it hasn’t gone to wrack and ruin as the infrastructure has been maintained in condition. As a river, its shores constantly change over time, but it persists. Grasses, flowers and small trees sprout from its bed. The vestige has become a boundary on the fringe of society. An intimate place, where past and modernity make their acquaintance.
Mankind has influence on its own territory in many ways. Human actions such as technical paradigm shifts, or urban tissue redesign, transform our surroundings. As by-products of these transformations, residual spaces can be found in the interstices of our habitat. These are generally qualified by society as wastelands. Indeed, to rational & functional minds, residual spaces appear as wasted and as an inevitable parasites to useful and organized ones. There is however, in this ephemeral state and in the uncertainty of its outcome, an unusual poetry. To that purpose, By the silent line focuses on a metropolitan scar carrying history: la Petite Ceinture.
This long-term project is a way of maintaining the memory of a landmark and to give thought to our ability to constantly question, reconsider and transform our territory.
“Photographer born in 1986 in eastern France, trained in geometric & wave optics at Ecole Centrale. His work has been published in numerous international magazines (L’Obs, Slate, Première, Lense, Feature Shoot, Le Point…) and covered in different radio and television interviews. By the Silent Line has been exhibited in France, Lithuania, Norway, India, the United States of America and Austria. The body of work was a laureate of Archifoto (2014) and Moscow International Foto Awards (2014), Rencontres photographiques du 10e (2015) and Kaunas Photo Festival (2015).
Pierre Folk’s works explore human society, with a particular emphasis on man’s relationship with his territory. This research takes form of visual narratives and is not of a documentary nature. The author’s intention focuses more on perception and how our use of space is reflection of ourselves.
To fit his artistic approach, all pictures are made through large format photography using a view camera and colour negatives. Seeing the world through the ground glass is a meditative experience, demonstrating much similarity with painting. Such a meticulous process gives him the distance he needs from the subject to investigate every composition. It is also an aesthetic choice as the medium presents interesting descriptive ability.”
© text and pictures by Pierre Folk