Land Art - The Solar Mount

" The most impressive and daring attempt in the recent times to grapple with the meaning of Mont Saint Michel took place when Laurent Maget secured funding for a grandiose project on a scale inconceivable to the average sensate Brit.The french army were drafted in to erect 600 one metre square reflective aluminium plates on scaffolding bases, to form the shapes of Roman numerals marching in a straight line across the sands at the foot of the Mont. For the three weeks of the autumn equinox, these figures were swept by the shadow of the 150 foot spire of the abbey atop the Mont, which thus became the pointer of a sundial, its shadow three quarters of a mile long.

The effect - to judge from the aerial photos - was phenomenal. The row of figures, striding off to infinity amid eddying patterns of wind and wave, a straitght line where no straitght line should be, came to represent the powers of reason, of the intellect, of that thin veneer of rationality which saves human civilisation from descending into chaos... : that of managed time, manufactured and will-dominated, as against that of natural, telluric rhythms, of neap tide and spring tide, equinox and solstice, and those deeper and darker cycles from which urbanised, industrialised, filofax man and woman are alienated.The viewer was reminded of the different levels of the abbey site, each corresponding to a different period of European civilisation, levels reaching down to the Celtic shrine of Lug-Belenos, god of light, and probably beyond that to the very birth of consciousness.

In an interview, Laurent Maget said that he had sought "à faire réagir ce lieu" - to make the place resonate.

It sounded rather as if, sharing the twentieh century's frustrations with the holy, he had actually been intending to get the place by the scruff of the neck and shake it until it sang !

Certainly, he succeeded in evoking the genius of the place, even if he let it more mysterious than before."

Charles Pickstone,
in "Modern Painters"