From London to Valence

La version et les nots anglais

Sunday, 6 December '09

Instead of selling flowers on the square and before the sky becomes grey—we must learn to love the rain. Took the train to Gatwick and off we go, to Lyon and as planned, the rendezvous in Ville de Valence. With us the bags we made and in us the unbeaten hearts. Don't be shy, lets cause a scene.

By Romanians' fault and the alert on the system; first stop—Lyon Airport Security. We waited. The story of SScott began. No cuffs, just a stamp and a delighted policeman. A short transfer to the centre of Lyon and an introduction to SScott's which was a pleasure. Got off the bus 'round the corner of Avenue Rockefeller to Gare de Lyon and found ourselves no baggage lockers. Off to Charpennes then to Hôtel de Ville, dropped off the bags and pâte feuilletée for lunch on the square. Fête des Lumières in Lyon on the first day we arrived and Fête des Lumières in Ville de Valence on the last day we had to leave, both—we missed.

Trompe L'Oeil on walls, b/w stripped pavements/columns, street lamps wrapped in colours, slightly-short pedestrian traffic lights and a backdrop of the mysterious mountain as we passed every street in parallel. The crowd multiplied subtly, bands of red indians making music and a supposedly organized crowd-control metro system with barricades and signs made the journey time consuming and definitely confusing. George Brecht's chairs, couple of the others labeled 'art'—I, wondered, the rustic bronze spiral slides in corners and caught in the act of thievery at the Xe Biennale de Lyon.

Lost the time and missed the train. An hour and a half late, we arrived in the unexpected Ville de Valence. SScott and myself were warmly welcomed to the cozy home of AudS and CamS, pass midnight.

Monday, 7 December '09

"Bonjour Valence!" Pain au chocolat and coffee for breakfast. And off we went to the ghetto in AudS not so little white car, driven indifferently. Bumped onto EddC on his cycle on the road and soon found ourselves on the compound of ERBA. An oversized white tentage in the middle of a mostly quiet residential area, like a make-do traveling circus, it sat—unknown to the neighbors. Countless different worlds behind the walls as you walk through doors on painted floors; their thoughts and all the unspoken wars. Space. An enviously perfect printing studio and film rolls are free.

MarG + MakS, black top red bottoms. Spread the word, given a brief and created partners-in-crime. ReyP and myself soon found us to be in the dream team as the days passed; according to SScott, we'd been avoiding each other. It made them laugh. I reckon it wasn't too bad. It's the process, it's not always only about work for/and work. It's a way of life—the people we meet, the people we converse with, the people we share a meal with, the people we make merry with, the people who welcomed us into their homes, the people we secretly fall in love with. Their stories, their sorrows, their joy and they might well be our brand new meilleure amie. The surprises we find right here in an unexpecting Ville de Valence. An exchange or a workshop; however it's labeled—c'est la vie.

Took a walk from the ghetto to the centre of town with ReyP and the quietness of the streets got me. It was peaceful except the soft running engines of vehicles on the road, as if almost abandoned, everywhere. The 70s right here a decade past the millennium, the surrounding mountains and the castle on it made it indescribably mesmerizing. Heard about the donkeys in the mountains only couple of days later.

Caught up with GFereday and (R)oman as they searched for their secret hideout. Grabbed some wine, cheese and saucisson from the super-markt and had a communal lunch at AudS + CamS. Perfect. Close to having a collective nap, we split, in search of our places.

The black house on the hill next to the cemetery. The short cut through the ever expanding graveyard. No creeps six feet under, only memories floating in the air. Their lives, their death. Never a familiar feeling. Pass the motorway, the showrooms, the flats and an empty playground. Found us on Le Parc Jean Perdrix and deux châteaux d’eau futuristes (by sculptor Philolaos Tloupas and architect André Gomis) in revolving sight. A static motion, the indefinite change in perception each gradual movement you make. Too perfect, too beautiful. The lake, the greens, the hungry pigeons, the swimming ducks, the conspicuous men and their dogs. The twin towers for the 'V' of 'Valence'. The tabby cat guarding piscine tournesol. A convertible swimming pool by Bernard Schoeller as part of project '1000 pools'; it's back to the future. It's strange and it's charming, unlike the boy next door. Tabby followed us for a bit. Then a coke and back in the tent. We still haven't found what we're looking for.

Communal dinner at GaiV + ReyP. More cheese and more wine. Stories exchanged and stunts up our sleeves. Subjective criticism swapped and tips given. Back to bed by 2 in the morning.

Tuesday, 8 December '09

Magenta team in the offset printing room. Unfinished before lunch hour. ReyP continued and I sneaked out on a little trip to Emmaüs with BasB, GaiV, SScott and PedP. The drive out of town was peaceful. The odd shape of a part of the mountain, the open field, the anxious hearts and the setting sun. Incidental and accidental searches, we each took more than a piece out. The picturesque scene as we drove pass the towns, a myriad of flickering lights in the distance incomparable of any other cities we'd been. The missed opportunities—that's it.

"Créer des oeuvres d'auteurs vivants" Not exactly stolen wine and snacks for the night at the theatre. Languages bartered, secrets uncovered. Movie screening passed and performance skipped—we drank, again. And soon after moved to Le Malvern across the street from Gare de Valence Ville. A drunk soldier, a lying waiter and more wine gulped as the pub was closing. Bonne nuit.

Wednesday, 9 December '09

A rather unproductive day, at least of what I remember. A short discussion with ReyP about our change of location from the châteaux d’eau to piscine tournesol. Spoke of absurdity and relevance, spoke of donkey basketball then cheese rolling. Reckon it was going to be 1000 Idées Absurdes Ville de Valence par ReyP et JlsO and somehow came to the conclusion of 1000Valence in the next day. Very Valence/ You and me and everyone we know in Valence/ I VAL/ Saving Valence/ Run Valence Run/ etc. We meant—an alternative guide to Valence by a thousand reasons. The hidden beauty of Valence.

MarG + MakS prepared lunch. Waited too long, we left for the grannies' shop. Opens only from 14:30 to 17:00 every Wednesdays and Fridays. Heaps of clothing categorized in cardboard boxes, neatly hung jackets and dresses, shoes on shelves, stacks of books and tons of others stashed away. A hidden room behind the door filled with bottoms arranged by sizes. Found an accordion for CamS musical collection. We waited impatiently as SScott made her purchases, the lovely old ladies calculated unhurriedly; we needed lunch which we'd already missed. "Allez!"

By the time we got back, ReyP had to go and for the millionth time, we avoided each other again. Then it's back to AudS + CamS for yet another communal dinner and drinks. A raclette and potato feast, we savored. We spoke. They sang.

In the late of the night, some on bikes and others strolled. Climbed over the spiked gate and found us in an abandoned pool discovered by CamS + PedP. Sat on the edge of the diving board over dark waters, explored the compound, cranked open locked doors with a metal rod and an iPhone torch, moved the beach chairs, nicked the hangers, made a wee bit of commotion and gathered it was time to retreat. Next stop was the urban castle. Up the spiral stairway like in a David Lynch film; the fortress was packed. We shunned. Don't forget to breathe.

Thursday, 10 December '09

Half ten in the morning, ReyP and myself went on a walkabout. Fingers crossed in search of that 1000 valence/reasons on the streets of Ville de Valence. Could have and not been relevant, incidental spots and situational places recorded on camera. Accidental findings and forceful contextualizations. Lost and found, perhaps not. Off track, I thought so. Took a ride back to ERBA with ReyP and MakS. GaiV's and MatM's sancocho for lunch—divine! without doubt.

A ladder way oversized for the car, pails of papier-mâché, bags of grass and seeds, color pigments packed in plastic cups. With the back door of the car unclosed, (R)0man under the ladder in the back seat, the top sticking out and its end on my back. We drove, without much vigilance to the park where the statue stood that SScott + AudS had chosen to fix. The headlights of the car from a distance, the girls climbed up the statue and sculpted the head of the once headless baby, in the dark. It was convincing ultimately.

Mission accomplished. We head back for more raclette and x'mas ale for dinner. Shuffle party down the street at LioB's. Dipsy dancing through the night with stolen wine and unintentionally ended up in the wrong apartment, only to find each other awkwardly on the wrong side of the door 7 in the morning. It was a good laugh.

Friday, 11 December '09

To the motorway out of town further out south. Les valseuses remade, 3.5 decades later. ReyP as Pierrot, BasB as Jean-Claude and GaiV for Miou-Miou's role. Superb sun for the film despite the unbearable wind. They hitchhiked. Vehicles honked. Concerned cops pulled over for reassurance. A kind soul stopped by only to realize that it was not for real. A bottle of coke fell off, it was hilarious. Cut.

Back to the tent. MarG' + MakS', mostly in french, presentation was heavy for a non-french listener. I drifted, off and away.

Missed piscine tournesol and reassembled in all directions. Over the rainbow path, by books categorized. Broken glass bottles over the walls onto the roof. The quest for the hidden waterfall began. Down the stairway between 2 indistinct blocks after Shotokai Karatedo, you hear the heavy splashes echoing from the back. You listen as they speak.

Pass the park and through the woods, the expedition continued. A baby reborn and seeds for the birds in his mother's pocket. Subtly reunited, come spring shall they be distinguished. We observed as they discussed. Soon after, through the reserved neighborhood, cross the highway as it got further into dusk, we boarded the half sunk ship and watched the flag flew. The illuminated trail towards the sleepy mountains. The silhouettes against the calm waters. Somewhat surreal. Followed the pathway and off the beaten track then back onto trail. We braved the harsh wind and continued the peregrinate on the breakwater in search for the motorway of the sun. The brick tower as a viewing platform in both the direction of the river across and of the sky above—breathtaking. Valence revealed in various approaches and thats not it. Thereafter, a pressing shop left unopened for years, the articles remained untouched and forgotten. We celebrated The Last Lap/Call that we all missed, with hot chocolate and Kronenberg in a local bar.

Beer for dinner, pizza for supper and rum for pleasure. Classic!

Saturday, 12 December '09

A mellow last day in Valence after a heavy week of exploration and merriment. The temperature fell like our spirit did. Exceptional gloominess amongst us; can't really explain such affinity except that the beauty of life is the process of communication and through it the relationship between one and other. We go on separate ways and we shall meet again...