In October 2000 the myth of the Phoenix, loaded with the cultural diversity of different epochs and being a solar symbol, an emblem of resurrection and a synonym of transformation, became the subject of a three day discussion conference at the University of Caen, Lower Normandy. The building itself, having been destroyed during the bomb raids over the town in 1944, was reconstructed and officially opened in 1957 with a bronze sculpture representing the legendary bird. Willing to elaborate on the topic, the Regional Council of Lower Normandy asked Tristan Jeanne Vales to give it visual interpretation. The author presented his idea of transformation and the eternal rebirth and revival of spirit and matter in 32 large-scale black-and-white photographs, which are the subject of the current exhibition.
Grouped in four cycles, the works touch upon the idea of the Phoenix as a conversation with time, a communication with the subtle yet powerful movements of nature and an intricate game between the transient and the eternal.
The Traces and Time series, shot mainly in Iceland and Normandy, represent a poetic “listening to” the natural forms. Fascinated by the water and stone playing and the moving forms of clouds and ice, the photographer conveys the feeling of flooding foaming nature which is constantly revitalizing. Counterpoint to the above, the Oxymoron and Take Off series lead to an anthropomorphic interpretation of the universe. In the first one, which was co-authored by Izabelle Le Guern, Tristan Jeanne-Vales interweaves some personal symbols to achieve an exciting male-female diffusion, a unity of incompatibilities and a harmony of oppositions. In the Take Off series the author pays tribute to the flaming bird through the gracious body of the dancer Blanca Lee looking for ritual in movement which brings him to the idea of flying.
The exhibition of Tristan Jeanne-Vales is part of the events held concurrently with the Bulgaria – a Land of Europe festival in France. From May 2nd to June 9th, more than thirty towns in Normandy and Paris itself will be the venue of dozens of exhibitions, concerts, literary readings and theatrical workshops aiming at presenting Bulgarian contemporary culture to the French audience.
The events to take place in Sofia are organized by the Balkan Transit association, the French Association for Artistic Activities and the Regional Council of Lower Normandy with the substantial support of the French Cultural Institute in Sofia.
Tristan Jeanne-Vales was born in 1954. He has been working as a photographer since 1978. Photographer of the National Centre for Dramatic Arts in Normandy since 1980. His photographs on modern dancing can be seen in most books on that topic and are often published in the French and international press. He is an active contributor to a lot of printed press editions, mostly La Liberasion and Le Monde. For some years now the subject of his photographs has been the traditional folk music of different European countries and since 2003 – the music on the Balkans.