Déjà Vu

Permanent Sculpture


Déjà Vu is a permanent sculpture made from shrapnel collected in the fields and forests marked by the conflict of 14-18. These residues of rusty metals welded and assembled are strangely reminiscent of the bark of spruce trees ravaged by the bark beetle Ips typographus.

This artificial tree forms the replica of a dead beech standing next to it, echoing the camouflage and observation structures designed in 1915 in Toul in the studio of the painter Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scaevola for the French army. Sketches made by artists in no-man land between the trenches were used to build replicas of bombarded trees in ateliers by sculpture makers and stage designers. The ‘real’ tree would be cut at night, and the copy would be elevated on-site to create an observation post in the trench overlooking the battlefield.

Déjà Vu, close-up of the shrapnel and sculpted mushrooms and branches with shrapnel.

The work is permanently installed in the forests part of the public on the former trenches part of the third line of the Saillant de Saint-Mihiel, not actively engaged during the war.

Déjà Vu is the first finalized work of the research project ‘Between the Lines,’ which focuses on the catastrophic effects of drought and climate change in the forests of the Zone Rouge in the northeast of France. It relates to the ongoing struggle to deal with the aftermath and remnants of the First World War within the global climate crisis, which impacted this particular landscape on a monumental scale.

Déjà Vu, inside view

Commissioned by: Vent des Forêts, Lorraine, FR

Materials: Welded metal structure shrapnel collected in former WWI battlefields in Verdun, Romagne-Sous-Montfaucon, and Saint-Mihiel.

The work was produced in collaboration with Dominique Rennesson & Harald Demarthe (Chaudronnerie Rennesson, Chauvoncourt) and Cyril Renaudin (on-site installation)
Welding of the shrapnel: Marjolijn Dijkman

The work was produced with the help of Service Interministériel de Défense et de Protection Civile Français – Centre de déminage de Metz (Metz); Douaumont Ossuary (Douaumont-Vaux); Farmers who authorized the search for shrapnel on their land: Jerome Pierret (Apremont-la-Forêt), Dominique Biget (Apremont-la-Forêt), Yoann Philippot (Ailly-sur-Meuse); Jean-Paul De Vries (Romagne ’14-’18, Romagne-Sous-Montfaucon); Guillaume Rouard (Office National des Forêts Verdun); Erna Kampman (Histoires du Saillant de Saint-Mihiel); Isabelle Bergot (Le center de documentation – Mémorial de Verdun); Francis & Karian Marchal (Saint-Mihiel); Thomas Bee, Léa Delvallez, Axelle Grapinet, Elimane Sylla (Service Civique Saint-Mihiel)

Supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Paris, FR.

Déjà Vu, details of welded shrapnel
Déjà Vu, close up of the shrapnel welded together
Déjà Vu, back side view with opening to enter the sculpture