Course Camarguaise Bullfighting
Images of Course Camarguaise Bullfighting, Provence, France - Ongoing Project
I began photographing the Course Camarguaise Bullfighting of Southern France back in 2004. Many of my images were on hard discs stolen a couple of years later, so I returned in 2010 to renew my fascination of this spectacle. In 2013 after another visit to Provence, my laptop crashed and I lost those images too. The project feels jinxed somehow, as though the inhumanity of the subject shouldn't be photographed at all. But I still see it as ongoing and will return again when time allows - there is much of this historically and culturally important subject still to be covered.
This type of bullfight is the specialist form of bullfighting for areas of Southern France. The participants in a Course Camarguaise are called Raseteurs. The Raseteurs compete with each other by attempting to cut threads off the bull's horns (several threads are tied between the base of the bull’s horns prior to the bullfight) with metal hooks (Rasets) that they carry in their hands. They earn points, and therefore a cash prize if they manage to cut the threads. They work in teams to distract the bull that chase the Raseteurs down, until they reach the perimeter fencing, which they vault to avoid injury. Often the bulls will follow, destroying the solid wooden planks in the process, showing the extraordinary power and speed of the specially bred bulls.
Whilst bullfighting is increasingly deemed a brutal sport, something which is hard to dispute, Course Camarguaise somehow sees the shoe on the other foot - the bulls are not killed but taunted and the Raseteurs are at greatest risks. Injuries are serious and fatalities are not unknown.