The Field is a short film that retraces the steps of Frederick Walker on the night of october 8th to 9th 1918 when he suffered a gas attack in a field near Houplines. It left him visually impaired for the rest of his life. The film is currently ready for festival submissions so I cannot publish anything online yet, but feel free to ask for a private viewing or go check it out on filmfreeway shortly.
Some background information
Within the ‘Fictive Archive Investigations‘ group Philippe Black, Julian Walker and myself embarked on a common project, Borderlines and Frontlines, handing over the archival pieces and information to the others so each could work on a personal approach with other people’s materials.
My goal was to embark on a pilgrimage to the places where they had lived their ordeal, document that as precisely as possible and create new work from my personal perspective. I received a fragment of Frederick Walker’s war diary, some regiment information and two possible locations for the gas attack in Houplines as well as several addresses in Brussels and Eupen from the Beck family. The latter resulted in a series of pictures that accompanies Julians take on the material that Philippe handed him.
With the help of the Flanders Fields Museum, I got hold of more detailed information that could pinpoint the exact location of the gas attack. I spent a week in the area, figuring out the possible routes Frederick’s regiment must have followed and went on numerous nightly trips filming those spots. On the 9th of october 2022, exactly 104 years later, I was in the field where it all happened. Well, actually I documented the three locations: the two Julian had pointed me too and the one I discovered. I made ‘reconnaissance’ drawings of those places as they are now, just like my own great-grandfather Joe had done during his time when he was on the lookout with his friend Samuel. This resulted in an accordion fold sketchbook with three landscapes and with the nightly videofootage, I made a short film retracing the exact route I had finally discovered.