by Lisa Mazenauer

« In 2031, the 170 inhabitants of Mitholz will be evacuated from the village for 10 years by the Swiss government in order to neutralize a munitions dump of the Second World War. In 1947, the arms cache partially exploded, destroying part of the mountain, damaging Mitholz and leaving the remaining unexploded munitions buried in the mountain. 73 years after this accident, the danger is revealed by researchers. Geological surveys and topographical models show that the damaged mountain is moving: further tectonic movement may cause a second explosion. The following testimonies come from telephone conversations and images received by the villagers. The COVID-19 pandemic did not allow an encounter on site.» The book Mitholz starts with these statements. I seek to explore the interactions of the lived experiences of the inhabitants and the subjective sense of the place, steeped in history, with the political decisions made through various temporalities. Diverse sources and typologies of images together form a perception of experiences, and distance themselves from unequivocal and spectacular media representations. I deliberately wish not to place myself in a reporting perspective where I would try to teach the history of the place. Different points of view are represented: images produced by the inhabitants stand alongside evidence photographs. Through the processes of appropriation, the images pose basic questions of gaze and interpretation: What are we looking at? What, who do we see?
From where? The visibility of these circumstances today could highlight larger issues.
The explosion and the evacuation of Mitholz have led me to question our relationship to the environment and above all to the experiences of individuals who live in a context influenced by its past.