THAWING SOLDIERS

Region/Concept: Europe, Time
Sub-concepts: Surfacing, Suspension, Climate, War, Decay
Description: Mummified corpses of World War I soldiers emerge from melting glacier battlefield turned ski resort.

A love letter appears on the melting surface of an Italian ski resort; the frozen cry of a condemned soldier of the Habsburg Empire, inscribed from the depths of his agony. And the glacier, it seems, generates its own inscription from the depths, written across its surface, of the sunken remnants of a multitude of bodies and weapons rising from a block of suspension. On the currents of a warming climate, the landscape secretes its secret. Death emerges among the picturesque Alps, as tourists pose before a jagged array of peaks slowly eroded by weather and the occasional barrage of mortar blasts, silent for almost a century, and remaining in silence, only to reveal the mutilated army that once traversed these peaks and crevasses. Where now, amidst fresh alpine air, skiers and hikers cannot help but “smell the war” and encounter the contorted bodies, mummified as if they had died on this same resplendent day. On some immemorial day or eternal night on the outskirts of the highest village of the Habsburg Empire; the highest and therefore an example for all. The chalet may have replaced the outpost for now, but the smell lingers, the smell of an ineradicable decay, the immanence of destruction that permeates yet another empire, beneath a glossy surface, as permanent and as transient as the glacial ice; a depth that is already emerging with the turning of a breeze. And so, in the poetic tradition of an unmarked grave, the letter, emblazoned forever across the melting slopes, terminates with the signature, “your abandoned lover”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/10562017/Melting-glaciers-in-northern-Italy-reveal-corpses-of-WW1-soldiers.html

Will Scarlett