Merveilleux, formidable et superbe

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Thursday, May 1, 2014

Every time you travel there is a high and a low point, like life I guess.
We discovered our high yesterday in a little town called Les-Baux-de-Provence. We were privileged to witness the greatest artistic experience of our lives. It is an ongoing exhibition called Carrieres de Lumieres. 
Carrieres de Lumieres is a light show, accompanied by music. But this is no simple undertaking, there are a number of factors that make this the single most fascinating and moving experience.
Firstly, the space itself. Carrieres de Lumieres is an old limestone quarry owned by the local municipality of Les-Baux-de-Provence and good on the council for holding onto this little gem and not selling it off. If it were in New South Wales, they would probably be undertaking a 'benefits realisation' assessment at this moment to sell it off... Oops, sorry - I almost got stuck into an anti economic rationalist rant...
I digress... this limestone quarry, forms the grand halls onto which the images are projected. In some parts, the walls of the quarry are 50 metres high, but as you would expect with a quarry, there are uneven surfaces. These create walls, rooms, vestibules and each become part of the projected palette. Because it is a quarry, and therefore dug into the earth, it is cold when you enter (they sell blankets at the door for 5 euro and even with my delightful Burberry jacket I was chilled). When you visit - get a blankie!
Secondly the images. There were two major exhibitions we saw, one on Klimt and Vienna and the other on utopian societies (Les villes invisibles). The images used are projected using technology that is better quality than HD (high definition). It is simply amazing to watch as the clearest and sharpest images appear before your eyes. Imagine the vibrancy of Klimt's golds, The Kiss literally makes you cry. And as for Adele Bloch Bauer, woo hoo get ready to swoon. Imagine her, 50 metres tall, gazing down with all the beauty in the world. Transplendent in the truest sense, rich, colourful and sumptuous.
The Klimt exhibition also has images of his contemporaries - works from the amazing Egon Schiele, timeless apparitions. You stand in a cathedral - feeling what can only be described as a fervent religious experience. Each vignette commences in the dark. You are in sensory isolation, floating in a cold nothingness. Then around you the images start, revealing themselves slowly as music accompanies their arrival. Wonderful music, sometimes classical (e.g. Dvorak, Handel, Brahms), sometimes contemporary (e.g. Philip Glass). 
The Invisible Villages exhibition commences, again in darkness. After the tidal wave of colour, light and music your senses return to quietness and you have time to return to your self. Time to reflect until slowly, as though from the earth itself, tendrils of leaves start to grow around the walls. They climb the 50 metre heights, weaving around the space, overhead and underfoot, curling delightfully. Like time motion photography on acid, golden and green. This sequence moves into a series of utopian societies, little roads appear around you, corners with brightly coloured houses, clocks tick backwards, waves of water crash in, underwater cities emerge.  
Some of the vignettess completely embrace you, ceiling, walls and floors all become part of the virtual canvas. You become one with the art. Dancing, watching, crying, experiencing. It is emotionally overwhelming and inspiring at the same time.
I stood transfixed and weeping for several minutes, watching as people quietly and reverentially floated by. As I awoke from my dream I looked up as David walked through the dark to me, tears covering his face. 'This is the most beautiful experience I have had in my life. It is unbelievable.' he cried.
We've seen a bit of art in our day in a lot of places. But this is truly the most artistic and creative experience of art we have been part of.
Get on line, get on a plane. Get there. It Will Be Worth It.

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