There is something very soap-opera-ish about travelling – those niggling unknown eventualities; like coincidences and chance meetings, language and barriers, inconveniences and crowds, irritations and line-ups, a winning resourcefulness and . . . ultimately – great art, wonderful food, and air conditioning.
A recent wade-in was a quick train ride from charming Montpellier to the historic town of Nîmes, a famous bullfighting (aka bull games) town and the capital of the Gard department located in the Occitanie region of southern France. It was a day trip specifically to visit the city’s Gambetta and Richelieu quarters, the epicentres for the annual ‘L’Expo de Ouf’ festival, and to photograph its ever-expanding collection of street art.
A mere few blocks from the Gare de Nîmes, are some very transporting pieces of antiquity, so be prepared to take an obligatory photograph of the beautiful l’Église Saint-Paul de Nîmes, gawk at the Roman ruin the “Arena of Nîmes”, then sit on the stairs with your back to the new contemporary art gallery/library and decide which one merits the most attention – this century’s library behind you, or the extremely imposing Roman temple ‘Maison-Carrée’ (circa 4 to 7 CE) right in front of you. Of course, it is hard to compete with antiquities designed for the Caesar family – ultimately do both and avoid the soap-operatic crisis of conscience.
There is a well-staffed local tourist bureau nearby – so get a map – and have them circle the neighbourhoods. Not too challenging in any language and it also alerts them to the purpose and importance that street art is to your visit.
The Nîmes collection slideshow:
Recognizable work is everywhere. A partial list of artists include Zabou, Mr. M., Lorien Van, Nubian Artwork, Ose Artwork, Spone, Zeklo Rodriguo Sanchez, Bault, AD.EC, Noon Artist, Sismikazot, MAYE, A11A, Grumo, Gütan, Berns – Supocaos – Isa@ac, POLO 51.67, Grumo – Bault – Azot and others.
The word on the street is that this event, conceived by Cedric Crouzy in 2012 and up and running since 2014, takes place each year from early September to the end of October.
I know that this reads more like a travel blog than a street art forum, but it is a job and somebody’s gotta do it …. Too bad I was just a few months too early for the 2019 fest.
So, back to Montpellier? Back to London? Back to Berlin? Or back to . . .
L’Expo de OUF 2019?