Le Bessin.
Demeures, paysages et legendes.

Photographs by Olivier Meriel.
Images en Manoeuvres Editions, Paris, 2002. 112 pp., 50 duotone illustrations, 8¾x10½".

In the Normandy region of France is Le Bessin, a land steeped in legend and long celebrated for its apple cider and mysterious marshes. History is rich in this area: close to Formigny a combat took place which marked the end of the 100 Year War, and on the edge of Marshes of Cotentin stands the castle of Colombières, an XIth century fortress. Meriel has approached this landscape with the eye of an alchemist. The hyper-real details faithfully recorded by his large format cameras have been commingled with the rich blacks of overexposed silver nitrate, while his subjects are bathed in the moonlight by which he works, a preference that lends itself superbly to the Medieval myths surrounding Le Bessin. The imagery borders on the theatrical, enhanced by his heavy burning-in of the sky, a printing technique that he employs to wonderful effect. The ghosts of centuries past seem to linger in shadowed doorways and just beyond the edge of the frame.

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