Photographer Didier Vivien has composed in nearly 40 years of investigation an exceptional documentary book on coal and the history of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais mining basin. He began his incredible photographic engagement in the 1980s, when the last wells were closed, then continuing his exploration of the landscape changes resulting from the end of this industry.
This immersion led him to an important work as a historian and the writing of two essays for this book: a social history of the issues of coal from the 1720s to the present day largely illustrated by archive documents and a reflection on the documentary photography, its practice and its changes.
The 640 pages of the work are divided into two parts:
• 1 / an archeology of mining sites
5 photographic series produced in black and white from the 1980s around the places, tools, mining culture, up to when the last wells in the Basin were closed in 1990.
• 2 / a study of the territory at the dawn of the 21st century
5 color photographic series presenting the changes and reinvention of the territory after the end of exploitation. the breakdown by sector (Denain and Valenciennes, Douai and Aniche, Hénin-Beaumont and Carvin, Lens and Liévin, Bruay-Labuissières and Auchel) makes it possible to highlight the singularity of each territory (mining heritage, diversity of mining habitat, morphology of landscapes ...).