La Cathédrale d'images

by Stefan Fletcher September. 01, 2009 4436 views

At the end of the 1950s Jean Cocteau directed one of his little follies, le Testament d’Orphée, and roped in his buddy, Picasso, for a touch of artwork. I’m not sure exactly how (my knowledge of French symbolist cinema is hazy, to say the least), but he found an extraordinary location, an abandoned limestone quarry close to a famous village in Provence, Les Baux-de-Provence, which happens to be rather close to where I now live.

The venue subsequently became la cathédrale d’images, a fascinating setting for a son-et-lumière thingy that offers the extra benefit of being bloody freezing when the surrounding countryside (known as the valley of hell) is boiling. Ah bliss, until you sneeze enough to get nasty looks elsewhere in this age of H1 flu scares.

I wanted to express the vastness and coolness of the interior, which wasn’t easy given the rather tacky “homage to Picasso” show currently on offer (“Guernica, as seen by Disney”).

Whatever was achieved is thanks to a fast wide-angle lens and a monopod (a one-legged tripod, of which more later), as flash photography was not allowed.
There are some context shots explained by captions.

Just to get you interested: the fortunate burghers of Les Baux-de-Provence lived in dwellings carved out of the living rock.

Yours truly, as taken by Marina. This picture tries to show two things: it was hot and there's my monopod, which doubles up as a hiking stick as required. (You can also pretend it's a light sabre if your mental age is in the single digits like mine.)


Could be used for any Indiana Jones / Mummy / cheapo archaeological film setting…

For an explanation, please read the text below.

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There are 12 comments , add yours!
Piyali 11 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely fascinating..I would surely love to visit this place. thanks for sharing!! Oh I forgot to mention that I saw an advertisement for a monopod where they mentioned it also adds up as a hiking it shows that they do not always exaggerate!!

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Sandra Vermeulen 11 years, 2 months ago

Seems a very interesting place, Thanks for sharing. ;o)

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Azrin Abdullah 11 years, 2 months ago

It looks like an awesome place with its majestic entrance and all...

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Kate 11 years, 2 months ago

What a great post...fabulous images...great information and humour...wonderful :)

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
David Swatton 11 years, 2 months ago

Uber-cool set - I think the monopod approach was definitely better than flash could have rendered. But the place is wonderful - and could stage fantastic exhibitions. I agree with the Disney-does-Cubism remarks but in the hands of an imaginative curator it could be utterly spectacular.

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Brian 11 years, 2 months ago

What an interesting place. I agree that it might work better with different types of artwork.
#3 is very impressive.

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 11 years, 2 months ago

Fantastic place. Thanks for showing us. I want to go there now.

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Mel 11 years, 2 months ago

What an extraordinary place. A beautiful space for such exhibits, which you have captured perfectly.

So, would you recommend a monopod ?

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Hong S 11 years, 2 months ago

it is cool

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Thebronzebow 11 years, 2 months ago

The space is very interesting, and something about the juxtaposition of what is essentially a fancy slideshow with the weight and age of the stone is... ??? You do have the look of a pack mule in the heat however. I have a monopod as well. Light sabres at dawn? :)

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Michael Sakowicz 11 years, 2 months ago

This is such an interesting post. I love the idea of what is going on here. Well documented of course, too. Also, what's wrong with thinking of a monopod as a light sabre?

11 years, 2 months ago Edited
Lynda 11 years, 2 months ago

Fascinating place and rather special. Thanks for the history lesson re the Cocteau movie. Makes for interesting shots.

11 years, 2 months ago Edited