Browsing "Lacoste"
May 8, 2010 - Lacoste    1 Comment

The Pace of Things

It’s another rainy day in Lacoste, and that means work time. Fortunately, blogging is a part of my work. So I get to share with you!

This week I found myself falling in love with what I photograph (and falling in love with photographing) once again. It’s been a while since I’ve felt its gentle pull. As always, I find myself down in the dirt.

The image above has some interesting stories attached to it – but you have no idea. This little metallic berry was on the moss of a wall enclosing an ancient gravesite in the middle of the forest at Oppéde Le Vieux. That’s not why I made the image, but I thought I’d share.

Our visit to Oppéde Le Vieux was surprisingly refreshing. The mountain air was thick and earthy in my lungs as we climbed up to the village. Unlike all the other villages-on-hills we’ve visited, Oppéde Le Vieux was abandoned around the turn of the 20th century up until the 90′s, when people started living there again. (So saith Professor McMullin.) So there is this shift up the mountain from inhabited to uninhabited. Or… so I’m told. I didn’t make it all the way up! My Rachel pace kept me wandering around the town at the base, where people still live.

It was a charming town. The hugest climbing roses I’ve ever seen growing over doorways and windows, little potted plants everywhere, garden gates open for a person like me to peek in. The best part about this town was the presence of the people – everywhere! It was the perfect town for me to do a huge chunk of my shooting for my final photo project. I’m doing a series on the little details I’ve been finding everywhere – but specifically, ones that have a strong narrative feeling to them. I have to be drawn to the detail because it evokes a human presence in it – whether a shoestring tying a vine to a climbing frame or a bowl and spoon left in a garden.

What excited me most about this town was the approachability of the residences. In other towns the touristy areas are more distinctly separated from the areas people live in. I enjoy seeing homes and the details of daily living. Perhaps part of my frustration with not feeling connected to France comes from this fact. Sure, I’ve been living in France. But I am a student. I haven’t gotten a real taste of what it would be like to live in France, to work here, to build my life here. And all that is tied to not being able to fully engage with the culture. I am not French. I do not speak French. The constant smell of lavender and hot kebabs fills my nostrils in the towns we visit; the same postcards and the same lavender sachets clog my vision. Where is the heart of French life? Where do the children go to school? What do the back yards look like? Where do people work? Where do people go on vacation? What do people do on the weekends? The tourist front of France isn’t meant to answer those questions.

My wanderings through Oppéde Le Vieux satisfied some of those questions. I think that was my favorite trip we have taken. Not for the reasons you’d expect – for the monuments, the restaurants, the shopping, the history, the beauty, etc. For me all it took was connecting with the place. My artist self was fully engaged… and not with the same scenes any visitor to Provence is able to see. It felt so good.

Another thing we did this week was watch our first movie – the four of us. Susanna picked it, and it’s possible you know it – a French film called Caché. I’m surprised I do not completely regret watching it – given that if it had been just me, I would have turned it off within the first 30 minutes. Possibly 15. Yeah, parts of the movie really disturbed me (violent stuff). Yeah, it was incredibly slow in unfolding. But it was pretty unique. Not convinced on the cinematography. But I enjoyed hearing the French and seeing their home. It struck me as pretty authentic.

Our trip to Avignon yesterday was the opposite of Oppéde Le Vieux for me. Our morning was spent in the Palais des Papes (the residence of Pope Clement V during the Avignon Papacy) and the Musée du Petit Palais, where we saw floor upon floor of Renaissance paintings. I saw my first Botticelli. I dubbed it my favorite before I realized who painted it.

The rest of the day was largely spent wandering the city. I’m so relieved I wasn’t relying on it for shooting towards my final photo project, because it wouldn’t have been a good fit. Oppéde Le Vieux was truly perfect for that. Avignon was wonderful in other ways. I had some quality time with my girls, and we enjoyed our spontaneous wanderings. Not in the same category as Oppéde Le Vieux – the two aren’t really comparable.

However. If we hadn’t gone to Avignon, I wouldn’t have gotten these images.

This is my friend Susanna. And I would just like to let the world know how beautiful she is. Also, I happened to be be editing these images when half our faculty plus our program director came up the library stairs with two guests on a tour. Not only did they introduce me, but they all wanted to see what I was working on, and I was able to show them these images as well as my best work from Paris. Everyone marveled at how beautiful you are, Susanna. Professor Smith, Mary, and the guests. That is the note I would like to end on for today.