Synonymous with the art of travel since 1854, Louis Vuitton continues to add titles to its “Fashion Eye” collection. Each book evokes a city, a region or a country, seen through the eyes of a photographer. Since his first trip to Cordoba, Miles Aldridge has maintained the same loving eye for the luxury and heaviness of its religious processions.
It happens that one falls in love with a city by chance, on the corner of a street, when the mind wanders. This love is often prepared. It is the fruit of readings and paintings, of a part of the imagination that comes in the shadows to pull the strings of great emotion. For the British photographer Miles Aldridge, it was Cordoba.
Cordoba was through the words of the writer García Lorca, in the nocturnal volutes of Miles Davis. It was ready. The great capsizing was coming. It was there, without any great blow, without any disturbing element. Since Aldridge is as good a speaker as he is a watcher, let’s quote him: “We were sipping a glass of Montilla-Morilles – that incredible local white wine – in a bar in Cordoba, my thick book of Lorca’s works laid out in front of me – when extraordinary echoes of percussion, trumpets, and singing rang out. It was a complete contrast to the quietness of the place. I left the bar and came face to face with the Virgin Mary who was coming down the narrow street, amidst candles and the scent of incense, carried by young men.
Having fallen in love during Holy Week, Alrdidge returned without regularity, “seven or eight times”, when the need was pressing. Of these haunting loves that return at a fixed time, like a necessary procession out of the fury of the world. What does he find there? At the corner of the streets, all the Spanish folklore. Proud chins stretched to the sky with on their shoulders, a virgin covered with ornaments. The procession of the dead and the living, each wearing the mask of the other, frozen in a solemn moment, as in purgatory. The incense hung on the swing of the wrists, at the end of a chasuble, and the dark night, a little slow, disturbed by the pointed silhouettes of the masked processionaries.
One keeps when one loves only the best of the memories. This love is cherished. One sucks the juice from it and when sadness comes, the memory comes back, like an eternal character, repeated and found. In this Cordoba, love is relived in the procession and the rites. But this would be to freeze only the recommencement of the litany. Cordoba in Holy Week is much more. It is the night stretched out by children. “They are outside, at three and four in the morning, with their grandparents. They like to collect the wax that drips from the candles and make balls out of it.”
The Cordoba Miles Aldridge plays with this ambivalence between a folklore embodied with gravity, a promise of a tradition each time rediscovered, and the pagan celebration that it arouses throughout the city. “The sacred and the profane merge,” says the photographer. His book wanders like a regular in the neighborhood, in the ambiguity of symbols and the solitude of large crowds.
The book alternates color and black and white in its selection; the first chosen to recompose charcoal tones that evoke Caravaggio, the second to focus on scenes and see only curiosities. The book is composed of a paper of a muffled elegance and allows itself an interstice glossed with gold, as one would open the shutters of an altarpiece, on the marble face of the Virgin, almost alive.
Composition, colors, manufacture. It is a book of great elegance. One would forget the walk of Aldridge. The photographer gives all along to see the mysticism of a Cordoba inhabited all week by its demons and its angels, and which chooses the parenthesis of the nights to wake up and live again. In all points it is a success.
Miles Aldridge – Cordoba
Éditions Louis Vuitton, 2022
Collection “Fashion Eye”, directed by Julien Guerrier.
Edited by Sylvie Lécallier.
Graphic design by Lords of Design.
Bilingual French-English, 96 pages.
Available in bookstores or online