Refracted Images

Douglas Johnson on a French village’s attempts to honour its local history.

Rieux is a village, a few miles to the south of Redon, in central Brittany. Responding to the interest in the history of ordinary people that is now very widespread in France, Rieux created, in 1982 and 1983, its own programme of 'son et lumiere', depicting a peasant's view of the Middle Ages.

In 1984 it put on a spectacle to show how a peasant family responded to modernisation and industrialisation between 1923 and 1954. As an accompaniment to these theatrical initiatives some 800 photographs were collected from local inhabitants and this year about a quarter of these were exhibited in the village's tiny mairie. They covered the period from before 1914 to the early 1950s.


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