Zone à Défendre
8 September 2016 — 5 November 2016
Albert Baronian is pleased to announce Bruno Serralongue’s third exhibition “Zone à Défendre” at the gallery.
Bruno Serralongue has been paying regular visits to Notre-Dame-des-Landes since 2014. For his exhibition, he has decided to focus on collective moments by presenting photographs taken during events organised within the ZAD by inhabitants (collective vegetable gathering), by the farmers who support them (collective seeding) and during the huge annual anti-airport gathering which has taken place every July since 2003.
The movement opposing the construction of an airport on farmland in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, around thirty kilometres from Nantes, made French headlines in 2012 due to the launch of police operation “César”, and has more or less remained there ever since. In October 2012, the police moved into the ZAD (Zone à Défendre) with the intention of destroying illegal settlements and evicting their occupants, some of whom had been living there for the past 5 years. The aim was to clear the area so that construction work could begin. Thus, an old regional project dating back forty years became national news, a project driven by regional and national public authorities which has always sparked fierce opposition from both residents and farmers. What public authorities imagined would be a passing storm transformed into a guerilla war lasting several weeks; the police did not come to evict protesters, who received support from sympathisers from all over Europe. The halting of works announced by the French government in November 2012 is a victory for protesters. The occupation continues. There are around 200 people currently living in the ZAD on reclaimed farms, in caravans and in huts. With the help of farmers who lend them advice and machinery, the ZADists farm the land and keep livestock. As with the fight to protect the Larzac plateau from a state-imposed project to extend a military camp there, the ZADists are not just a protest movement; they are experiencing a new kind of communality in which mutual support and the collective take precedence over individualism and private property.
It could even be said that opposition to the airport has now become almost secondary to the ZAD inhabitants’ defence of their territory and the communal way of life that they have cultivated there. And in parallel, the same could almost be said for the state, for whom the main concern is no longer building the airport as much as re-establishing order: that is, reconquering territory which is slipping further and further from its grasp.