“A road in France / forgot where and when. // That can happen when using analog film / in old Voigtländer camera.”
(one day later, using memory and internet: this is Rue Diderot, just entered from Avenue de Général Leclerc, Pantin, Paris. May 12, 2017)
Now, length plays a role. If you are 20 cm longer than me, you will have a different look.
No doubt, analog photography is different from digital. With digital photos I change little, perhaps enhace contrast somewhat, adapt ligth-dark a bit. Rarely major manipulation with saturation and such. But this Kodacolor film, in Voigtländer Vitoret (dating from early 1960s): different cake…
Along the same road, Avenue Général Leclercq, Pantin, Paris, there is the the entry of Parking has a guard house, with peculiar roof, or should I say: a sort of canopy?
Experience learns, a car might leave the exit at some speed…
After a while and a strech with the Metro (subway) we have come back to the Paris Center.
In 2017, people sat at a table for coffee, beer or glass of wine, and terror had decreased. No virus in sight, yet.
Indoors, no people smoked, so we had coffee inside. Looking through the window, I noticed a message taped to the glass. Everything else is background. All this happened May 12th, 2017
Today was different: it started grey and fairly cold. One year of 21st century pandemic, has certain effects. Dominant is the feeling of uncertainty. There are roadblocks at the border. Still, after six months with meetings by ‘skype’ only, the three of us met at small parking-place, to walk in the forest.
No kissing or hugging, we focus on nature, and some human acts.
One should not carve in skin of trees, but testimonies often are built on scars.
Going north, a logger had felled a tree and new life settled on the cut surface.
Tiny leaves left from autumn, have shadows imprinted on bark.
About fifty years ago, someone planted stakes on (and with a) purpose. One straight, the other leaning for support, joined with an iron nail.
Here, there is quietude, and the option to choose which way to go.
At another time, one may meet a fellow traveler on this earth, his/her shelter being a hole in the ground.
Someone took a token of belief, and by placing it in old tree trunk, fixed time and memory.
The clefts and riggles of bark of this birch tree surpass abstraction.
“Three of us is enough: not afraid of tension or to separate fields, and create boundaries”
text and images (c) Drager Meurtant, March 7-8, 2021
Only after crossing trenches / and brooks, and raising / fallen trees upright, // followed by rubbing out / the dirty ground from narrow eyes, // and by calling loud: “I’m alone!” // motion started behind / the bushes.
Slechts na oversteek van greppels / en kreken, en het rechtzetten / van omgevallen bomen, // waarna de vuile grond uit geknepen ogen / werd gewreven , // en door luid te roepen: “ik ben alleen!” // kwam er beweging vanachter / het struikgewas.
One thought, it is a goat, / fastened with ties and anxious, // the other believed to perceive / a superior power.
De één dacht, het is een geit, / vastgebonden en angstig, // de ander meende, een hogere macht / te ontwaren.
But something unmentionable / crept forward: “reason evades an explanation.”
Maar iets onnoembaars kroop / te voorschijn: “de rede laat zich niet verklaren”
The day of December two thousand and twenty, started with haze and drizzle, that kept some sort of lock over the day.
Still, face covered with mask in the train, we went to the city of Amsterdam, to visit the museum of photography ‘Foam’. Rarely do I make photos of photos. But there are other elements. My photos taken in the museum are given below, together with a few from the journey back home.
Now more than in earlier times, there is the need for refreshment of air within buildings.
The artist Jan Schoonhoven might have found inspiration.
Somewhat hidden, there is a call for connectivity, dating from more than half a century ago.
A crack in the window captures the focus.
Outside is different, but the view is still influenced. And strong light placed near historic facades of homes deviates the focus.
While looking outside through the train windows, images are mirrors of movement.
Early autumn 2014, we stayed for some days in big Sun Resort in Greece (Halkidiki, Macedonia). The economic crisis of 2009 had been tempered, but the effects were still visible. Expansion of the resort that had started about eight years earlier, had stopped around 2009-2010, and rapidly, structures that were not finalized got in part demolished.
This building stands on the south side of the port. From behind the open, unfinished form is seen. From the harbor, the appearance is ‘better’. A screen suggested a finished structure.
A little further a second, longer unfinished building.
A room of this second building contains stacks of chairs and tables. To the left, again, screens have been placed on which the appearance of a nice finished building is depicted.
A look from inside through such a screen shows only abstracted forms.
A small, intimate setting.
A bit further away from the big hotel and port, attempts to remove old buildings and replace these with new ones, have been suspended. Digging has created a temporary pond.
Note the historic remnants of original dwellings.
As part of the expanded sun resort, an open movie theater was created.
Other play and fun places were installed, but had been abandoned for some time: good for memories.
Now, November 2020, an even bigger crisis has started. This week, news about first effective vaccine against COVID19 arrived. However, expectations are it will take one year or longer, to treat people at risk, which concerns most of us.
No surprise, that situation at this sun resort has remained much the same, in as far I could discern today from examination of google earth map of the area.
Up until about thirty years ago, villages in France each had their ‘alimentation*’, ‘boulangerie’, boucherie and one or more cafes. In larger villages – as in cities – there was also the ‘quincaillerie’.
Elder men sat on benches smoking pipe while looking at others playing ‘petanque’.
As prehistory tells, the earliest humanoid presence in France dates from > 1.5 million years. Up untill 5.000 years ago pockets of human inhabitation consisted of small settlements. In the neolithic period (circa 4500-1700 bc) agriculture was adopted, with parallel development of appropriate tools to work the land and store produced foods. As such, potteries became established. Settlements increased in size.
The following era’s were defined – in archeological terms – by the metal that dominated in tools (and ornaments), with iron, copper, followed by bronze. A major change occurred with the colonization of France (‘Gaul’) by the Roman Empire, of which period many remains are still scattered across the country.
With industrialization in the 19th century the rate increased at which urbanization occurred – with people departing from agricutural regions, a process that continues up to today. Examples of ‘villages abandonnées’ are found all over France’s rural areas. In some regions erosion added to the abandonment of villages.
In addition, there occurred the devastating effect of “La grande Guerre” (WW-I), in particular in the north of France. Whole villages were destroyed to the ground, never to be rebuild. In the area above Verdun several of these destroyed villages (‘villages detruits’) can be found. In villages that survived – which ever the size – memorials were raised incised with long lists of victims.
However, despite the fact that grenates and bodies were being dug up for decades after the war, life gradually resumed it’s normal course.
Society in these areas for most of the 20th century still can be defined as people with their connection to their family, work, village, the church, the school, and trade at markets and shops. For travel – if not by car – many railways served to link villages and cities.
Now in 2017
Many villages no longer have their ‘alimentation’ or even ‘boulangerie’. People must go to large shopping centers on the outskirts of larger cities.
In small cities like Langres, the same pressure closing smaller stores exists, but the population plus tourists serve to maintain the economy of others.
Yet, even in Langres this nice bakery, “Boulangerie Maison Gallien” is threatened with closure, since neighbours – unlike in previous times – now complain about the noise of the bakery at 4 o’clock in the morning. (sign on door: “Nuisances Sonores – une boulangerie en difficulté”, or “Noise Disturbences – a bakery in problems”, post from Le Journal de la Haute-Marne). Likely, ‘modern city people’ working from 8.30 till 17 hours, tolerate less than earlier inhabitants.
Many railroads have ceased to exist. Schools have closed or are threatened with closure. The ‘cementos’ of society crumbles. Foreigners (mostly dutch) buying houses for use during holidays stop decay of abandoned houses to some extent, but leave emptiness during many months in the year.
The sometimes exorbitant prices of houses / appartments and of living in large cities such as Paris, plus the unhealthy environment (pollution) and the increased number of retired people are all factors that lead to a move out of these cities towards the country. The existence of rapid trains supports this option. For retailers of small shops, however, future remains uncertain.
The presence of places of interest, like former Abbey of Auberive, now also Museum of Contemporary Art (focus on ‘independent art’) helps to maintain enterprises such as Boulangerie – Alimentation & Café de l’Abbatiale in Auberive. (Departement de Haute-Marne)
Note, added June 1st 2020
The COVID19 Corona-virus pandemie, that also struck France heavily, and led to a lock-down (including inability to move freely for > 1 km from home) for more than 2 months, might stimulate a move from the city to the country.