See You In Court 2013

International action, suggestion and perambulatory intervention, outside not in

Marseille-Provence Capital of Culture 2013

Rhône Nucléaire: the Folklore of Cultural Capital

The Rhone is one of the major European rivers, rising in Switzerland and running throughout southeastern France it has been an important inland trade and transportation route since Greek and Roman times, connecting the cities of Arles, Avignon, Valence, Vienne and Lyon to the Mediterranean ports of Fos, Marseille and Sète.

There are 59 nuclear power stations in France. France relies on nuclear power for nearly 80% of its electricity. Although consuming only 20% the rest is exported to other European countries, the UK being one of the biggest importers of this electricity from France.

The Rhone has 5 different nuclear plants along its banks - Bugey, St. Alban, Cruas, Tricastin and Phénix with a total of 15 power stations. In May 2013 Miyuki Kasahara and Calum F. Kerr walked various points along the ‘nuclear corridor’ of the Rhone Valley. Their experiences recorded primarily through sound recording and film, included Marcule Nuclear Research Facility and Tricastin near Pierrelatte, one of the largest Nuclear plants run by major suppliers Areva and EDF*. They also searched for a nuclear waste storage facility at Monteux and a food irradiation plant in Marseille.

In a popular medieval legend, the ‘Tarasque’ is a terrible, scaly, bison-like dragon that burns everything it touches. The Tarasque escapes from hell near Nerluc (modern-day Tarascon) on the Rhone, destroying boats and swallowing riverside inhabitants. The story of Tarasque and Saint Martha is very similar to that of “Beauty and the Beast”. The French government and other countries have fallen in love with Nuclear power. Have they become a modern day Tarasque falling in love with Saint Martha? Or are they ‘Dracs’ another Provençal legend, a creature that draws humans into the river, tempting them with precious rewards?

A related strand examined the work of the mysterious William Branch-Johnson, the English writer of ‘Folktales of Provence’ in 1927. Jeanne Louise Calment (1875-1997) the oldest documented person lived in Arles and died age 122. Born in 1893, William Branch-Johnson has no recorded death day, is he alive in Provence and as ancient as Jeanne Louise? In May 2013 the artists followed in the footsteps of ‘Folktales of Provence’ combining Branch’s local knowledge with a search for modern-day legends surrounding Marseille-Provence Capital of Culture 2013. Travelling through the region, Tarascon; Les Baux; Salon; St Remy; Alyscamps; the ancient necropolis at Arles; Pont Saint-Bénezet in Avignon and the Romani Festival of St Sarah at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer deep in the Carmargue, where the Rhone meets the sea.

*EDF is one of the major sponsors of Marseille-Provence Capital of Culture 2013.

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