With twelve years gone by since we last crossed paths, I meet my great aunt again. It’s a fortunate encounter. I learn she’s kept a journal all her life. She tells me about it. Hélène is like a character in a tale.
Artist: Iris Millot
Project: Le soleil passe à l’embranchement (The sun moves across the junction)
For forty years, Hélène has been living on an old farm in the center of a forest with not much else around. Véronique was once a resident as well. She’s no longer here. Hélène cultivates her beds ; she works the land at Mont-Lion. She sells vegetables in the neighboring towns of Gilette and Bonson, she sells at the market. The water she uses comes from nearby springs. When that water runs out, she can’t take a shower.
Final season. The place is about to be sold, so Hélène is probably the last person to work this land. This is the first year that she doesn’t plant. The springs have run dry. A number of trees planted by her father die. As for the men, oddly, they’re all dead. Three sisters remain. Hélène speaks to the animals, maybe more than to men. At 77, she’s still felling trees. She’s a former Women’s Rights activist. With twelve years gone by since we last crossed paths, I meet my great aunt again. It’s a fortunate encounter. I learn she’s kept a journal all her life. She tells me about it. Hélène is like a character in a tale.
Neither documentary not entirely fictional, Le Soleil Passe à l’Embranchement (The sun moves across the junction) mixes photography, narrative audio recording, excerpts from journals and archives found in Hélène’s attic. Combining our two perspectives, we try to write this story together.
© Iris Millot
Iris Millot, born in Paris in 2000, lives and works in Marseille. She graduated from the BTS Photography program at Auguste Renoir in Paris in 2020 and from the National School of Photography in Arles in 2023. In her work, she strives to gather clues, collect traces with which to construct narratives that delve into the relationships that humans form with their surroundings. Materials she uses to explore the concepts of habitability, transmission, and anchoring in more common stories. Her latest project, "Le soleil passe à l'embranchement," invites us to traverse the intimate and social layers that merge in the inhabited lands, which have been worked for over forty years by her great-aunt Hélène. An old farm, a women’s rights activist, dry wells, and one last season.
Selected for the "Une Attention Particulière" exhibition and among the laureates of the Dior Prize, she exhibited this summer at Ground Control in Arles and at the Grande Halle of LUMA for the Rencontres d'Arles. She won the 6th edition of the Dior Prize for photography and visual arts for young talents. In addition to her personal practice, she co-curated several exhibitions such as "Buffet à Volonté" and "Une Petite Robe de Fête" for Bouche à Bouche Gallery, and played an active role in the creation and rehabilitation of "Le Printemps," where she curated the exhibition "WIP#22 (Work In Progress)" with Ambre Husson for the Rencontres d’Arles.