Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Contrasts in Provence, part two



"You do me an honor." I turn to face a young man advancing towards me with a smile. It takes a moment for me to realize that I am photographing what must be his home. And in fact, I am even photographing his painting, that of an odd creature that catches my attention every day as I pass  on my walk with the dogs. It decorates a flower-box hanging above a cobble-stone passage, mere steps from the Arena.


"I have always wondered what this little guy means," I stammer out. It is not often that conversations are started between strangers in Arles. "Ah, he is the God of the Bulls." His French has a Spanish accent. I widen my eyes in surprise and so he continues. "You see, he glows like the sun. And here, " he points to scraggly traces leading off on the right hand side,"these are the spirits of all of the bulls that were killed in the Arena." We both turn to look to where the souls had come from, the stone arches rising to the sky. "They come to the God of the Bulls and make him strong." I see the red behind the figure, the dark red of blood. "And so you have him here...on your house..." I try to find the words, "to protect you?" 


There is a pause. That wasn't quite what I meant to say but between his accent and my own, there is something lost in the air, hanging. But we look at each other and nod. I nod again, we wish each other "Good Evening" and I turn to go.


Camera in hand, I continue my path but my thoughts are elsewhere. I remember that le Feria de Pâques, the Easter Bullfights is fast approaching.


There will be more souls for the God of the Bulls soon.









36 comments:

  1. Fleeting encounters such as yours with the young man often leave me thinking about them for days, wondering about the meaning of it all.
    Lovely, lovely textures. The blue wood (shutters?), the warm wood carved flower. Ah.

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  2. Beautiful, Heather. Your words and photos completely took me away and I feel as if I am standing on that street in Arles with you, having a fleeting conversation with the man of the God of the bulls. Thanks for taking me out of my corner of the world and bringing me to yours! XOXO

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  3. I've seen posters in Arles for "bull games," which I understand do not include killing. Is that correct?

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    1. Those that are listed as "Courses Camarguaises" do not involve killing. Events during the Feria, including the Corrida, do.

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  4. I love your Arles. You share it with us in the most exquisite way.

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  5. Lovely images Heather. How I envy you with your wanderings around Arles. How interesting that such a simple, graphic painting has so much meaning. Being a animal lover, I do not understand bull fights. Such cruel entertainment.
    xxTracy.

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    1. Tracy, if you have time to click on the link in the text towards the end you will read that we went to one. As people who have travelled all over the world covering traditions and tribes we have seen some rather extreme stuff and so wanted to see it from that point of view and to understand. I won't go back. As much as I could have appreciation for the artistry of the toreador, the killing is senseless and brutal.

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  6. It's hard to believe that in this day and age, in the "first world" status no less, that bull fighting is still carried on and celebrated. Not even your beautiful photographs will still my boiling blood at the thought of it.

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    1. Good, that was the point! And why this is another in the "Contrasts" series. Last year, tauromachie was given National Heritage status...

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    2. Oh as you can imagine, I am with you two here! National Heritage Status!?? Yeah that is definitely crazy.
      Though I slightly remember that during the last years some political party in Spain (or France too? I can't remember ) was close to forbid bullfights. But the money aspects must have won as usual! And since then nobody questions it anymore.

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  7. These images are stunning, Heather, but I'm equally entranced by your wandering, by your chance encounter, by the rarity of strangers speaking and how pleasurable and rich those moments can be. Souls, perhaps for all the gods and some, shining.

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  8. I gather that if he painted it..he has some sympathy for the poor animals? beautiful shots of your lovely Arles.

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  9. I love your ARLES TOO!YOu should do a picture book on ARLES!!!

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  10. Love a good wander Heather and when you have wonderful encounters, all the better! As always, your eye for detail is perfection. It gave me an idea, wouldn't it be fun for those of us living around the world, who see another world in the detail, to connect through a series of posts, an artistic journey with photographs. I can think of a few already. Might be fun...the wheels are turning, I will come back to you on that one. See..you have done it again, always inspiring me! 😉 Thank you!!

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    1. Let me know, Jeanne. You know I would be happy to participate!

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  11. Hi Heather,
    We will be arriving on Saturday afternoon. A week to chill before the Feria; in fact I prefer the quieter times in Arles, even the first week of Les Rencontres is too much. I recall you mentioning about leaving town when the hordes invade. But its easter break here and one of us teaches and is off for vacation. Next year my work partner wants the time off with her child, so we will alternate and I will miss the hordes in my front yard. Bullfighting is very controversial, but when you think about what the romans did in the Arena.... I have met many locals who just ignore it and many who are afficionados; also quite a few "Parisians" who come down. Did you stay and visit Bodegas when you first lived in Arles? Some of them have generations dancing classically together (Eglise Freres Precheurs) and the Ave Maria is beautiful. Some locals who avoid the bullfights still wish that Arles could afford to bring more well known matadors...its a matter of cost, and people appreciate the euros it potentially brings to town. Did you see the ecole taurine exhibition the weekend of march 1st, the kids, even a female, future matadors in the "ring" with a baby bull on Place du Forum? I saw Sunday's event as I was moving stuff around all day to make room for the work to be done in the kitchen and preparing to leave the next day. Also have visited Gimeaux where the kids were playing in a ring with the young bulls. All about the same hormonal levels. Tough beasts, naturally dangerous. I ramble. Have you told your readers about the course Camargaise (Bull Games above?)
    Its has been wonderful to view your site regularly. Hope we can meet soon.
    And Hello David Terry!
    Mike

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    1. Hello Dr. Mike (I love Janey's nickname for you). Well, you will be here soon! You will see that the weather is divine. Le tauromachie is not...something that I can believe in...although if you see above, I did go to decide for myself. And yes, when we were younger, we used to go to the bodegs, especially Les Andalouses on Thursday night with the locals. Alas, since the manade that sponsors that particular bodega were also the host to the giant regional FN meeting a few months back, I will no longer attend. And I saw the setup for the March 1st gig - I find it very odd. Kids and bulls. And I have mentioned the Courses Camarguaises but still...not my thing. I am rooting for the cultural development of Arles to help bring in money (and yes, I know that some restaurant owners say that they do 1/4 of their business between the Ferias) that is not so reliant on killing animals. That said, I hope to have my post up about the Fondation Van Gogh tomorrow. It is exceptional, really beautiful and very, very positive.
      Travel safely! Arles awaits...
      H

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  12. Gorgeous contrasts. I think you need an artist's plaque on your door. ;)

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  13. the charm of chance encounters. To walk is human, to converse is divine.
    I felt dizzy looking at the narrow almost-seemed infinte alley (beautiful photo) and the rare shdows of parallel lines.
    The artist has a bull for adornment?

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    1. Well spotted, Edgar (no surprise there)...that contrast too was intentional...

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  14. Thank you for taking me back to my favorite town... stunning photos.

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  15. Did you get a new camera Miss? Those are great pics...

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    1. Nope, same ol' camera...just better light! And shhh...most of these were taken on "program" not manual! :o

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  16. Love the conversation and focusing on the details through your lens. I've never seen a bullfight (and don't want to), but I also feel dread at what I know is coming your way.

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    1. Bad energy just takes over the entire town until it reaches epic proportions...

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  17. I'm trying to remember if I knew that you went to one of the bullfights??? Yowza - that's intense! Trying to understand is very admirable; glad now you skidaddle out of town! The spirits of the bulls... : (. Beautiful photos as always; I would pay good money for a print of the flower carving on the door! Talented sister!

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    1. Sister, you don't have to pay any money because you are my Sister! Just let us get the printer back up and running after the move.
      I love you!

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  18. Oh Heather, I am so sorry not to have found the time to write something to your wonderful previous posts. And I always wanted to answer to some of your answers but was still too busy.

    But that does not stop me from daydreaming: What would you say if you had four walls in a tiny photo gallery to show in Cologne? And a tiny little publication, low budget production?

    I can't promise anything but I love the idea and am stretching my tentacles... It would just be so interesting to fill up a room with your work and how to bring the story and image together.

    (Funny, I just saw that Jeanne already asked you for another collaboration (: Thats cool!)

    Like the reflection of the coloured window in the dark window a lot and as always the story.

    Je n'aime pas la foule non plus... Et j' espère que tu peut t'en fuir!

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    1. Silke! I am speechless. And very touched and honored that you would think of this. I will email you...

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  19. Ah, god of the bulls. The gods are everywhere. In the window, on the window box… Bises, G

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  20. Ah, god of the bulls. The gods are everywhere. Buried in the riverbed, painted on a window box. Exquisite details. Bises, G

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  21. I think my favorite one this time was the shadows of the fence on the sand. Not sure why since this post is busting with beauty.

    I feel like the conversation between you and the honored artist is unfinished, somehow. I don't know that you will finish it with him, necessarily, but I feel something more will come of this encounter.

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