Since the height of Antiquity, the Cantal mountains have been part of farmers’ lives by providing them with summer pastures for their livestock. For four months, men aged between 12 and 70 watched over the herd and the quality of cheese produced in a grandiose landscape with a harsh climate. These cowherds or “buronniers” were masters of a pastoral economy that has now disappeared.
Farmer Jean-Paul Soubeyre, wanted to honour the memory of these buronniers who left a deep mark on the social and economic life of these lands known as summer pastures or transhumant. Convinced of the need to “make an act of recognition” for these men, the Pailherols Commune and the Sauvegarde des burons du Cantal association joined forces to support him with his project.
The artist Camille Henrot was invited to imagine a work that bears witness to a powerful human story and to the close link between man, animal and landscape. This contemporary work is neither a monument to the dead nor a folkloric endeavour, but a part of the universal history of pastoral farming.
At the entrance to the village, in an enclosed garden, Le Vestiaire du berger (The Shepherd’s Hut) marks a symbolic departure point for a trek up to the summer pastures. Forms suggestive of familiar objects recall the buronnier’s universe and work. The Vestiaire emphasizes the fact that these traditional objects are no longer in use, but also the possibility that this is only a temporary state. Then, like an invitation to roam, My Mountain spreads out along a hiking trail into the countryside. The artist created around forty sculptures inspired by the form of the fence or movable barrier used by the cowherds to corral their herds. Their forms reference the Trigrammes of I-Ching (The Book of Transformations), in which there are sixty-four combinations that describe the states of the world and their evolution. Here, in a confined space, the sculpture park appears as a constellation that recalls the universal contemplation of the starry heavens and sends us back to infinity. White in colour, the fences disappear into the snowy landscape in winter only to reappear again each spring.
Patrons: Association pour la sauvegarde des burons du Cantal and the Pailherols Commune.
Mediation/ production: Valérie Cudel and Mari Linnman for the New Patrons Programme initiated by Fondation de France.
Funding: Fondation de France (New Patrons Programme), Fondation Carasso, Minister of Culture and Communication under Public Commission in partnership with DRAC Auvergne Rhône Alpes, Pailherols Commune, Cantal Department, Cère and Goul Communauté de communes, Association pour la sauvegarde des burons du Cantal.
Inauguration: June 2016
Press release, June 2016
Photographic credits: Phoebé Meyer