Back of Matador with Red Fence, Arles
Kodachrome, 1988, October
From the Bullfight in France collection
In 1980 I was in Arles, in the South of France, to speak at the Perpignan Festival. Lucien Clergue, whom I knew and admired, said, “Why don’t we shoot the bullfight?”
My astonished answer was, “Here? In France? A bullfight? A real bullfight?”
Lucien smiled and said, “Oh yes. A totally real bullfight. Quite serious.”
I was doubtful. What would I see?
This series was obviously not from a single bullfight. I shot all afternoon.
Watching the spectacle, shooting the people, the crowds, the band, the cast of characters, the stages of the fight, the matador’s finesse and the inevitable conclusion, I came away with some thoughts:
Why is this called a sport? The only loser is the bull. The bull is maimed and wounded at the outset by the banderilleros and picadors so that he can’t move without pain and agony.
I know of no “sport” where one antagonist is crippled before the fight begins.
Yes, it is spectacle, the music and the crowds are spectacular, the participants dressed beautifully.
But it’s not a beautiful thing to see.
It’s not Death in the Afternoon as named by Hemingway.
It’s more like Murder in the Afternoon, or The Slaughter of the Innocents.
Usually I end these introductions by hoping you will enjoy the images.
I don’t think you will enjoy these but I hope you will be moved by them.
Paper & Printing
Epson Legacy Baryta
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