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Bernard Chevalier


Marine vanities

From Pont-Aven to Lorient, I walked for days along the coastal path with the sea and the horizon to the right, the land to the left and, above me, the wonderfully changing sky. However, it was while walking under cover along the rias that I found what I was looking for without knowing it: wrecks rotting in the mud left by the tides and eaten by marine plants. Some, with bows still standing, could be repaired and set out to sea again, but their state of abandonment condemns them to a slow death in these damp sewers at the end of the world. Most of them are now barely identifiable ruins: only the skeleton of the hull remains like an emaciated thorax split in two and flattened; or else there are only scattered elements of the structure that emerge from the mud like blackened bones in a mass grave. To the rhythm of the tides and the currents, the rains and the wind, the earth will end up covering these remains which for a long time have traveled the sea and braved the waves. Sic transit gloria mundi. I photograph these vanities as we photograph funeral portraits on graves before they become unrecognizable under the decaying porcelain. Each wreck discovered through the trees while leaning at the edge of the path seems to me like a memento mori: is not all life a slow shipwreck which ends sooner or later at the bottom of a dark and silencious ria where you can no longer see the sea?

Bernard Chevalier

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