La mine est une bouche

Illustration: ©Valérie Etterlen


Available until december 2023

Price : Free





Début du parcours : in front of the Tiercelet mines

16+ years old

Duration: 30 / 45 min


16+ years old

Duration: 30 / 45 min

Participants enter the mine as if entering a mouth. A dark den, where the wind makes the barbed wire creak like ropes and the crematoria echo with a dull lament.

La mine est une bouche (‘The mine is a mouth‘) takes you into the dark depths of the Tiercelet mines in Thil, where, during the Second World War, Jewish deportees and Soviet resistance fighters were forced to undertake hard labour by the Nazis to manufacture V1 missiles.

It is the story of these bodies that writer Marina Skalova and composer Jacob Kirkegaard tell through this sound and poetic creation, which probes the traces left by the war and seeks to translate them into physical experience.

Outside the mine, the trail continues to the former site of the Thil concentration camp, where six poems bring out the unspeakable in the remains of history.

La mine est une bouche was created as part of the In the field project for Esch2022, European Capital of Culture.

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Inspired by interviews with the inhabitants of Thil and the documentary film Rodina by Jean-Louis Sonzogni, La mine est une bouche questions the borders that intrude on bodies until they break them. At once a documented fiction, a historical evocation and a plunge into the digestive corridors, the work slips into the very bowels of the Second World War.

From the trachea to the intestines, each bodily boundary is a threshold bearing the trace of the abuse inflicted on the prisoners. From their arrest in Minsk in Belarus to their deportation to France, to their escape before the Liberation and their final return to the Soviet Union, the different moments of their History are translated into a living journey. 

An attempt to capture the sensory vestiges of history, between the rustling of the forest, the chirping of birds and the flow of water taken from the mine where the prisoners were subjected to forced labour.

Marina Skalova is a writer, playwright and translator of German and Russian. She writes at the intersection of languages and literary genres. Her works include the bilingual poetry collection Atemnot (Souffle court) (Cheyne Editeur, Prix de la Vocation en poésie, 2016), the narrative Exploration du flux (Seuil, 2018), the play La chute des comètes et des cosmonautes (L’Arche, 2019) and Silences d’exils, a book and exhibition produced in collaboration with the photographer Nadège Abadie (Editions d’en bas, 2020). Her texts give rise to readings, performances, stagings and collaborations with choreographers. She regularly performs on stage with musicians, for rock readings-concert with Simone Aubert (Hyperculte, Tout bleu) or by combining her texts with the contemporary music of the duo KleXs.

Jacob Kirkegaard is a Danish sound artist. In his works, he seeks to reflect on complex, inaccessible or interesting places and environments through immersive sound explorations. His works deal with themes such as radioactivity in Chernobyl and Fukushima, border walls in global and metaphorical contexts and melting ice in the Arctic. He also creates works using otoacoustic emissions, sounds generated by the human ear. His work method stems from the use of sound recordings of tangible aspects of intangible themes. His sound creations have been released on labels such as Important Records (USA), Touch (UK) and Posh Isolation (DK). He has exhibited his work around the world, including at MoMA in New York, LOUISIANA – Museum of Modern Art and ARoS in Denmark, the Sydney Biennale in Australia, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan.

With the support of Esch2022, European Capital of Culture, as well as the French Ministry of Culture, the DRAC Grand Est, the Région Grand Est, the Centre National de la Musique, the Collectivité Européenne d’Alsace, the Département Meurthe-et-Moselle, the Ville d’Esch-sur-Alzette, the Ville et Eurométropole de Strasbourg, LISER (Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research), the Musica Festival and Puzzle Thionville.

In partnership with Residhome Luxembourg and the Cottage Luxembourg.


Text: Marina Skalova

Music: Jacob Kirkegaard

Sound recording: Jacob Kirkegaard

Illustration: Valérie Etterlen

Voices: Amélie Belohradsky, Marina Skalova (French version), Ashley Billings, Nelly Henrion (English version)

Voice Studio: Innervision

Artistic Director: Gaëtan Gromer

Production: Les Ensembles 2.2

Acknowledgements: Gino Bertacco, Stéphane Brusco, Emmanuel Mittaut, Daniel Pascolini and the association Mémoire de la mine.

Jean-Louis Sonzogni for his documentary film Rodina.