Thursday 29 July 2010

Guest Blog: Cathedrale d'Images Revisited

My mama has been spending time in France and sent me this guest post about the Cathedrale d'Images. See here for my account. Hers is below and, really, I think perhaps I should retire and get her to write all my posts in future. (All photos are taken from the Cathedrale d'Images website.)


July in Aix en Provence is hot, and exploring the town and countryside was giving rise to too many cups of coffee, glasses of Rosé, orange pressé so LT’s Aged Parent scrolled down through the blog to find some other recommendations. Back in September LT went to St Remy and Les Baux, places I have visited before and really had no desire to experience, crowded with tourists on a hot July day. But when I read that LT gave Cathédrale d’Images the ultimate accolade, I looked to see how to get there. Initial disappointment that the show based on Picasso was over, was replaced by a conviction that a visit was essential – check and see what jumps out.

For readers without internet access, the theme this year is Australia.

Arriving at Les Baux I steered through the thousands of cars, bikes and pedestrians and found parking (non-payant) at the cathédrale site, paid my money and went into the cavern which was distinctly ‘blessed coolness in the heat’. As I walked in I could hear fireworks reverberating to the sound of Waltzing Mathilda and see giant images of the explosions over Sydney Opera House projected on the near wall, clearly the end of the show. It looked magnificent. As LT described, I walked further into the cavernous space and the show began again. On the walls, ceiling and floor images were projected of life forms originating, pulsating shapes gradually giving way to plants, fish, flowers and animals. The pictures are repeated on different planes, the same but different, some still and some moving. You see a landscape, distant on one wall, close up on another and simultaneously all around you. A kangaroo is pictured lying peacefully in the sun, a still image until one ear flicks away a fly; a koala crouches in the fork of a tree just asking to be picked up and cuddled, but mind the fleas.

Jean Charbonneau and Dong Wei, who put the show together, wanted to pay homage to the Aboriginal history, which they do magnificently. Images taken from cave and body paintings kaleidoscoped through the cavern, foreshadowing Matisse, Miro, Kandinsky, and transformed by camera/computer technique from reality to pointilliste or impressionist paintings and back again. Vibrant colours and patterns all around, up and down, ever changing. Far from being intrusive, the spectators walking around, coming and going on different levels, were part of the landscape and the pictures, the flash of cameras, pinpoints of light adding depth to the landscapes. One man lay down on the groung and let the colours play on his face and body. Aboriginal music, pipes and didgeridoo, echoed in the vast space.

The portrayal of the white settlers was less sympathetic – they came (inexorably, wave after wave) saw and set out to change and conquer, importing sheep to clothe the nakedness which they thought immoral, subduing what they could of the vast continent by violence, gunpowder and eventually motorised power. A telling detail on the monument erected to Captain James Cook, was that it was presented to the nation by BP. Another was the reduction of the native animals to yellow road signs on the Northern Territory Highway, as you travel 500 miles where no fuel is available.

I watched twice through, enthralled and found the fireworks of less interest each time. My only quibble with LT is that she didn’t mention that one needs an extra layer in the cathédrale, otherwise one begins to freeze.

So if you are in Provence, don’t miss this experience which is a definite ‘VLD’. If you are in Australia, look for some of what Jean Charbonneau found as indicated on website.

No comments:

Post a Comment