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29.01.22 - 22.05.22

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Gaëlle Henkens et Roger Job. Soleil noir

I imagine you, and the book you are holding, discovering who we are, herdsmen and guardians in the Camargue, thanks to Soleil Noir by Roger and Gaëlle. From our first meeting, at the guardian’s hut, I knew they were trustworthy and I have not

been disappointed. For a period that was to last over four years, they began by immersing themselves in our “manade”. A “manade” is a herd of Camargue bulls or horses led by a “manadier”. Next, they involved themselves in the lives of our fellow herdsmen, sharing the dark side and the bright side of our existence. Their pictures render the rare and inner moments of the men of the marshland and all the things that make us what we are. We are passionate about our world haloed in black and white, ochre and light. Our memory is essentially an oral one and their work captures it and sets it down on paper.” These words spoken by the manadier Jean Lafon are taken from the book Soleil Noir.

Everything does not shine in the Camargue, and even less so in the everyday lives of the men and women living there: the guardians, the manadiers and the bulls. That is what Gaëlle Henkens and Roger Job discovered.

Soleil Noir (Black Sun) is the outcome of a lengthy process of work accomplished by the two photojournalists during their four years in Camargue. Years during which they immersed themselves in the everyday lives of several horse and bull breeders, in those families of manadiers (herders) who not only passed on their passion to them but also their hopes and fears.

After more than 176 days spent shooting photographs and recording countless images, the photographers attempted to understand and relate the tale of a unique culture that erects statues and tombs to the glory of its bulls in the villages of the Rhône delta.
Soleil noir conveys to us with elegance a strange passion for the bull, a special devotion that has nothing to do with Spanish bullfighting, because in Camargue, people play with the bull but do not kill it. God is the animal, not the man that approaches it!

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Gaëlle Henkens & Roger Job. Chaque année, les 24 et 25 mai, des milliers de Manouches, Roms, Yéniches, Tziganes et Gitans viennent de toute l’Europe pour y célébrer leur sainte, Sara la Noire, servante de Marie Jacobé et Marie Salomé, des proches de Jésus et Marie persécutées en Palestine. L’histoire raconte qu’elles furent embarquées de force et abandonnées sans rames ni voiles sur une embarcation qui s’échoua sur le rivage de Camargue, d’où elles évangélisèrent la Provence. Gardians et manadiers encadrent la procession des pèlerins depuis l’église jusqu’à la mer en souvenir du marquis de Baroncelli qui obtint l’accord des autorités ecclésiastiques pour que la statue de Sara puisse quitter la crypte de l’église afin d’être menée à la mer. © G. HENKENS