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From 02.12.2022 to 31.12.2024

Département du Territoire de Belfort

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Galerie Robet Dantec

“The 41″ refers to a memorable event in the First World War: the bombardment of Belfort by the big gun of Zillisheim. This military torment resulted in 41 shell impacts in the Territoire de Belfort, which were referenced on a map by a French soldier in 1920. The map is preserved in the Departmental Archives, which also keeps testimonies from inhabitants of that period.

The artist Raphaël Galley has imagined an artistic path that links each shell impact. At the very spot where the shells from the big gun fell, he installed a sculpted memorial post made of pink sandstone from the Vosges and oak, about 1.20 m high, at the top of which is a hollowed-out basin reminiscent of the crater created by the falling shells.

The sculptures are both objects of remembrance and markers for the future: in each basin, different species of birds and animals are able to drink and bathe as soon as the rain fills them up, just as the French soldiers of the time did when they washed themselves in the shell craters filled with water. In summer, people are invited to fill the basins.

The memorial posts are also a marker of the landscape and a pretext for urban and rural wandering: the shells fell on the town as well as in the fields. Each walker who follows the artistic route will be invited to discover both the landscape and the history of the Territoire.

A QR code is engraved on each memorial post, allowing visitors to consult various documents from the Departmental Archives (photos, maps, press articles, written testimonies, …) directly on their smartphones (even without an Internet connection) thanks to a dedicated application, as well as a map showing the location of “the 41”, the points of interest linked to the fauna and flora, and the work of the artist Raphaël Galley…


Militaires français dans un cratère d’obus (Photo Archives départementales)

A tradition of monumental art

About the artist Raphaël Galley

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