"June 6, 1944: D-Day. The epic of war, told by a grain of sand...
My grandfather liked to tell stories about life and death, and the sea. When I was twelve, he told me the best sea-story I ever heard, a fantastic tale about WWII. It was the first time I heard the word 'commando'; 'War Sand' explores this story, from micron to myth. (...)
The story my grandfather told me, goes like this: During New Year’s 1943, nine British commandos were ordered to cross the English Channel and surface on the beaches of Normandy, France. The mission was to covertly collect sand and soil samples along a vast stretch of coast. They had two days and nights to cross the Channel, collect the samples, and return without being caught. France, and the seacoast in particular, was thick with German forces. The Atlantic Wall, Hitler’s dream fortress, was a wall of pure concrete, guarded by massed artillery and elite soldiers. To be caught meant certain execution as spies. If the commandos made it back to Britain, the samples would undergo scrutiny by scientists, geologists and physicists. Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery were counting on these minuscule grains of sand to withstand the weight of an invasion force, the largest the world had ever seen. Thousands of ships, soldiers and armaments would land on Normandy’s beaches for the liberation of Western Europe. But first, the commandos had to complete the mission. At the end of his story, my grandfather opened a small wooden box, and unwrapped a small glass tube from a white linen cloth. It contained a pinchful of grey sand. 'This is what we brought back'." (© Donald WEBER)
"In this visionary collection of images, texts, and scientific data, photographer Donald WEBER and his colleagues investigate the beaches of D-Day using the latest techniques of forensic analysis. What they find is something far larger than its microscopic constituents: War isn’t just a defining feature of our collective experience, but a quantum event, as well. The war-relics presented here offer an immersive narrative on the theme of social memory. The assembled D-Day artifacts include WWII spy-craft and old Hollywood movies, dioramas and drone-mounted cameras, private post-war memoirs and wistful seaside photographs. They reveal our civilization's longing for a final victory over death.
The photobook project 'War Sand' seeks a great truth: What is history? And what does it mean to us, its creators and survivors?" (publisher's note, © Polygon, 2018)
"The strong aesthetic urge of the images along with the narrative suggestion of the text takes the viewer from emotion to thought and back again." (© Sara MATTHEWS, Art Critic)
"Through the use of microscopic photography and with a kind of forensic inquisitiveness and existential wondering, Donald WEBER brings us close to these fragments, offering us, too, the longer view: the eerie hush of the beachhead and the expressionless features of the sea and sky, edged in grasses. The book invites a contemplation of the endless quiet that lies beyond the flare of bold historical events, offering a cautionary tale of the hubris of humankind." (© arah MILROY, Art Critic)
About Canadian photographer, Donald WEBER
Donald WEBER is a photographer whose work examines the transformations of history through narrative. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and serves on the faculty of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. 'War Sand' is his fourth publication.
Photo books by as well as with works by Donald WEBER
- Larry Frolick, Kevin Robbie
- Book design
- Teun VAN DER HEIJDEN
- Pb., 19,5 x 29 x 2 cm. (7.6×11.4″), no dust jacket, as issued, 398 pp., fold-out map insert, 195 colour ills., multi-ingual texts: English / French / German