Max and Camille are free-spirited Englishmen with a continental connection. Max breeds envy among friends as they follow his frequent posts from atop an Alpine Col. Camille is holed up high in the Pyrenees but originates from the flatlands: “I grew up in East Anglia," he reminds us, “Iʼm from a bunker disposition." As cyclists, their way with two wheels gives them the ability to rise and explore, criss-crossing mountain paths to shift perspectives and unearth the unseen. As writer and photographer respectively, they trace ridgelines with complementary tools and distinct attitudes.
Cycling whets the appetite for exploration, pushing that bit further and higher to find the places others —literally— cannot reach. For Max, his Alpine journeys began to reveal strange forms, which through a little research, shaped into something more concrete: Bunker Research, a book that documents the hidden history of modernism in the mountains. Among the Alpine Extension of the Maginot Line, a handful of isolated fortresses lie marooned among remote and endless landscapes. “I became obsessed by the bunkers,” says Max, and thinking that Camille might share his fascination, “I dragged him over to the Alps” he adds, “which was not his natural habitat.” And so the pair went bunker-hunting.
Their bunker research wends its way up the mountains, from the pleasure-palaces of the Cote DʼAzur to the barren peaks of the Cime de la Bonette. The contrast of rugged swathes of nature punctured by clean concrete fortifications is striking, and begs the question: How did they get here? Who built these? Ironically, many of the forts on the French side were built by Italian contractors: supposed enemies during wartime, yet trading partners for Millenia.
© Camille Macmilan