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Snow Drawings – Briancon was created in February 2014 and is the first of two Snow Drawings projects in the Valley of Serre Chevalier – a skiing area in the French Alps. The projects were supported by the Municipalities of Serre Chevalier Valley. The piece was created over two days with the help of approximately 70 participants from the surrounding communities. The piece wraps around a mountainside, stretching upward along a hiking trail/mountain road (ski slope during winter). Participants entered the “snow canvas” from different locations along the hiking trail to start the extensive drawing from as many access points as possible.
Although located in a skiing area, my projects in the French Alps pose a stark contrast to the skiing industry, as they are extremely subtle and leave no lasting traces or environmental impacts of any sort. Snow Drawings introduces an alternative winter outdoor experience – one that encourages participants to interact more deeply with nature. Walking circular patterns within these stunning landscapes, listening to the crunching sounds of ones own footsteps in the snow, as the weather changes light and mood through alternating sun, clouds, fog and snowfall, is a form of meditation. Snow Drawings are a symbiosis between immersive nature experience, meditation and collaborative art creation. Although beautiful and whimsical the changing weather conditions posed challenges for the documentation of the work. Unmanned mini-copters got disoriented in a sudden but dense waft of mist and I photographed the work during rapidly changing light conditions – back and forth between bright sunshine and cloudy skies that lacked contrast. Since the weather forecast predicted snow for the night we spontaneously decided to photograph the work on the afternoon of the 2nd day. The images were shot from a helicopter that flew me along the artwork. However, due to the size of the piece most of my photographs show portions rather than the entire piece. The predicted snowstorm didn’t come, instead wind blew in warm air and fine particles of Sahara sands that settled on top of all snow surfaces and rendered them in shades of ochre-brownish tones. Local people blame climate change for these Saharan dust storms.