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Danièle Méaux.
A specialist in contemporary photography, Danièle Méaux is a professor of aesthetics at the University of Saint-Etienne. She has written several books on photography including: "Photography and Time" (1997), "Photographers' Journeys" (2009), "Geo-photographies. Une approche renouvelée du territoire (20115) and Enquêtes. She directs the online journal Focale.
Excerpt from the book "La photographie contemporaine & l'anthropocène" page 232 to 237, under the chapter Commonig, with the kind permission of Danièle Méaux, may she be thanked :

The Montagne défaite1 series by Olivier de Sépibus brings together square format colour prints representing sections of mountains, made up of ice and minerals. This series, initiated in 2004, transcribes the intense relationship that the photographer has had with the Alpine relief since his youth. The sky is mostly absent from the views, so that the rocky folds and crevices fill the entire field; they form a tight, tortuous conglomerate whose exact orientation and size are impossible to detect: no human figure comes to give scale and the depth of space is reduced to the plane. The interplay of light and shadow, which in traditional mountain imagery helps to highlight the slopes and contours, is absent here. On the other hand, the photographs, with their extreme definition, offer an almost tactile apprehension of the mineral textures and the ice that streaks and cracks, the viewer being inclined to lose his or her gaze in the raw material, to follow the lines of force drawn by the folds that refer to slow geological movements. The artist's aim is to make the viewer feel an experience similar to that of being on the spot, or to make him or her experience a relationship with the mountain similar to that which one might conceive for a person2.
The photographs in the series Montagne défaite bear witness to the shrinking of the glaciers, which are gradually being replaced by moraine and scree. Through their precision, they become documents of a future where the "eternal snows" will have disappeared. For Olivier de Sépibus, it is now necessary to take note of the extent of the changes caused by global warming. The melting of the permafrost is causing huge landslides and the extent of the glaciers is decreasing: the mountains that were thought to be solid and perennial are being transformed considerably, so that it is up to us to update the representations that we had of them. The sublime expanses of snow and ice, celebrated in Romantic paintings and exalted in the photographs of John Ruskin or Aimé Civiale, are becoming deserts of stone. If our ways of living in the mountains have to evolve, the affects and imaginations we have inherited are also being profoundly altered.
An exhibition presented by Olivier de Sépibus at the Departmental Museum of Gap, from 12 November 2021 to 29 April 2022, was entitled "La masse manquante", a title that indicates the extent of the loss that must be acknowledged today. Alongside the series 'Montagne défaite', a series of charcoal drawings based on 25,000 Swiss maps was presented. The artist produced these works by projecting fragments of maps onto large sheets of paper laid out vertically, where he could patiently follow the slopes, following the relief of his hand, so that this slow process of transcription through drawing took on an almost meditative dimension. The shape of the mountain slopes evolves in an uninterrupted way: the blanks left by the artist around the fields of lines allow the viewer to complete this movement of transformation in an imaginary way, as is possible in oriental prints.
The mourning of the glaciers - which Olivier de Sépibus leads us to feel intensely - is not presented as an individual ordeal, but a collective one. The photographs exhibited in spaces dedicated to art work to give a public dimension to the drama of this change, both in the concrete reality of the sites and within the imaginary and representations. Other activities of the artist testify to his desire to make the melting of glaciers a loss that concerns an entire community and deserves to be thought about with others. In 2019, Olivier de Sépibus founded the "Collectif Glacier: penser, agir, créer avec les glaciers, laboratoire des récits1 " which aims to "reappropriate our sensitive, pragmatic and social relationships with the Alpine glaciers2 ". This collective includes artists (a video maker, a photographer, a performer), but also a geographer, an anthropologist and a high mountain guide. It aims to develop the sharing of knowledge, affects and fears concerning the phenomenon of melting ice in the Alps.
"We approach the glacier as part of the collective: it is an active subject in our relational dynamics which induce aesthetic dimensions, representations, exchanges and reciprocities", the members of the group specify. The community that is established allows interactions between human beings, but also with the natural good that loves them and brings them together. Olivier de Sépibus is an avid reader of anthropologists' writings. In particular, he cites the works of Philippe Descola3. Inspired by such In its approach, it considers certain natural entities - including glaciers - as subjects, in the same way that animist cultures invite us to do. The collective organises artistic residencies on the Girose glacier, in the Oisans massif, during which funerary rituals around the disappearance of glaciers are experimented. It also gives presentations at the International Mountain Film Festival in Autrans and participates in university seminars, some of which concern the legal status of natural resources1.
Artistic productions and collective actions are intimately linked: based on the same convictions, they feed each other. They are combined so that the relationship with glaciers is better inhabited, so that they are seen as an environment that is emotionally and aesthetically invested by all. The works undoubtedly work, alongside collective initiatives, to make glaciers a "common good", i.e. a wealth that is based on the existential needs of a community - which aspires to find the means for better administration.

Translated with DeepL