The ZAD* of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, to the north of Nantes (France), has been figuring prominently in the news for ten years. Arising from opposition to the building of an airport in a nature conservation area, it became a place for experimentation to develop an alternative society— organic farming, non-commodified relations, and other social experimentation. This continued after the victory of the struggle, concluding with the abandonment of the airport project by the French Government in early 2018.
From 2014 to 2019, Philippe Graton experienced the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes from the inside, succeeding in being accepted by the militants, photographing their world and everyday life with medium-format film. This long-term commitment resulted in a photographic work that is a unique document of this radical period. The interest in this period and the societal questions it raises have never been so relevant.
In addition to the photographs, the book contains the author’s field notes, which can be followed like an adventure. A unique testimony, the book is a far departure from the pejorative media presentations about the ZAD.
* ZAD is the French administrative acronym for a “zone d’aménagement différé” (future development zone) intended for a major construction project. The opponents to the project misappropriate the term and call it “zone à défendre” (zone to be defended).
As a Frenchman born in Brussels in 1961, Philippe Graton grew up among picture storytellers: René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo, Jean-Michel Charlier and his father Jean Graton, giants of the comic book. So his involvement in photography, from the early age of thirteen, has always been connected with writing. A life of tales in texts and pictures took him from racetracks to film sets by way of Vietnam, Cambodia, and the war in Bosnia which he photographed for the Sygma agency.