Chemin de lumière (Le lavoir de La Margelle)
Henri Alekan, Patrick Rimoux
Françoise Naudet, president of the Association des Sept vallées in Haute Côte d'Or, who has passed away, wants to save the village washhouses from indifference. It is at the origin of the awareness that leads, among other things, to the organization of a tour as part of the European Leader II program. The Local Action Group chaired by Martine Eap-Dupin, General Councillor and Mayor of Précy-sur-Thil with the support of Jacqueline Bosset-Chauvière at the Côte d'Or General Council, supports this project of the Fondation de France. Thirteen villages are concerned by the restorations and nine works are commissioned for the washhouses of eight of them. In addition, there is a photographic commission, which is reflected in a book. The entire operation is supported by Whirlpool (Daniel Payan).
When the 18th-century Lamargelle wash-house at Aignay le Duc was restored, the Association du Pays des 7 vallées whose activities are directed towards developing the Châtillonnais wished to involve an artist in order to enhance the status of the site. The round-arched vaulting of the wash-house supports an outstanding roof of stone slates, and the rectangular pool has wash slabs on three sides. The water flows out via a stone channel to a little circular trough. A small adjoining house known as the maison du tanneur (tanner's house) completes the site which forms a particularly homogeneous whole, typical of the architecture of this part of Burgundy.
The two buildings – the wash-house and the house – are linked by a path of light encased in the ground. White light projectors were directed on to the stone-slate roof surfaces or placed inside, in the recesses and pools, underlining the presence of the water. This work met with the wholehearted approval of the patrons.
Alekan Henri & Patrick Rimoux
The commission forms part of the Circuit des Lumières (Circuit of Lights). So the mediator suggested bringing in Henri Alekan, a cinema lighting engineer and renowned lighting cameraman. He gained immediate fame after the Liberation of France for his work on now legendary films such as La Bataille du Rail (1946) by René Clément, or La Belle et la Bête (1946) by Jean Cocteau. His work is characterised by precision, sensitivity and poetry, though he does not strive to make the images aesthetically pleasing as an end in itself. A master of both colour and black and white, he was still working actively in the 1980s, attracting attention in major films such as A Strange Love Affair (1984) by Eric Kuyper and Paul Verstraeten, or again in Wim Wenders' Wings of desire (1987), among others. He had worked in association with Patrick Rimoux, a light sculptor, for several years as well as designing lighting for external spaces.