Une parade nuptiale
The commissionThe Onival lighthouse (or Ault lighthouse), built on the Onival cliff in the commune of Ault in the Somme (Hauts-de-France region), was brought into service in 1951. It is the third lighthouse to have been built on the site - the first maritime signalling station was built in 1885. Previously served by footpaths, the lighthouse could be visited by local residents and tourists, thanks to the cooperation of the keeper who lived on the site with his family.
Since it was automated in 2011, and the site cordoned off to the north for military reasons, the lighthouse has lost its direct link with the market town of Ault. The lighthouse keeper's house is gradually falling into disrepair, the access paths have been privatised and the lighthouse that the locals once knew is no longer open to the public.
A small group of local residents approached artconnexion with the idea of creating a work of art to reposition the lighthouse in the town, in the hope that a local association or the town council would take this first step towards reopening the site.
The artworkThe work "Une parade nuptiale" was conceived by artist Gregory Buchert, with the technical assistance of Lukas Truniger.
For his work, Gregory Buchert wanted to distance himself geographically from the lighthouse and its hill. He writes of the lighthouse site: "A residential, experimental and military habitat, (...) this interweaving of worlds confirms for me the richness of the site, and the idea that it doesn't need any work of art to make its point - at least not here. (Gregory Buchert, study submitted in May 2022)
This creation will be designed to bring the lighthouse back to the centre of the city - a lighthouse surrounded by multiple reliefs that prevent it from being seen. When night falls, the flashing of the lighthouse will become the reference signal for around fifty small lights scattered around the town (in residents' homes and outdoors). The lights will be switched on - in meticulously chosen locations - at the same rhythm as the lighthouse: "four occultations grouped every 12 seconds" (id.) for a duration of around 36 minutes per day.
Gregory Buchert was born in 1983 in Haguenau, Bas-Rhin (Grand Est region). He currently lives in Lille.
Artist and writer, he is a graduate of the Haute École d'Art du Rhin, Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains, and the Beaux-Arts de Lyon post-graduate programme. His work focuses mainly on writing, performance and video, and has been programmed at the Georges Pompidou Centre, the Centre National des Arts Plastiques, the Kunsthaus Basel, the Magasin Grenoble and various FRACs (Alsace, Bretagne, Grand Large, Limousin).
His first novel, Malakoff, was published in 2020 by Verticales to critical acclaim and won the Grand Prix at the Chaumont Book Fair, as well as a grant from the Centre National du Livre.
This project for the commune of Ault is his second public commission, following one for the Centre des monuments nationaux in 2021: a literary and sound walk through the Villa Cavrois, performed by actor and director Bruno Podalydès.
Commissioners: Christian Pottgiesser, Pascale Pottgiesser, M. Lamidel, former lighthouse keeper and Pascale et Pascal H., Martine C., Tatiana B. (Ault inhabitants)
Place: Ault (Hauts-de-France region)
Partners: Fondation de France