Rachel Cobb’s Beautiful Mistral
“Mistral: The Legendary Wind of Provence” is Rachel Cobb 20-year project photographing the effects of France’s famous wind. It funnels down the Rhône River Valley between the Alps and Massif Central mountains, blowing as often as 200 days a year, sometimes reaching hurricane strength.
Not just a weather phenomenon, the wind is an integral part of Provençal life, honing the landscape, influencing the architecture and agriculture, and shaping the character of the inhabitants. It slams doors, lifts roof tiles, steals fruit from trees. It’s a gremlin wreaking havoc – everywhere, yet always unseen.
“As long as there have been inhabitants in Provence, they have endured the mistral,” says Rachel Cobb. “I explore what it’s like to live in its path. My work takes place where an invisible force becomes visible through what it touches, and, while not an environmental story per se, it is a celebration of nature’s glory.”
Rachel Cobb photographed the mistral for the first time in 1998, capturing then the bright red, burning sky, which, in the Provencal culture, announces its imminent arrival. From then on, Rachel Cobb is obsessed with the phenomenal wind. The photographer spends whole days, camera in hand, waiting for the snow to freeze unusually, a fruit falls from a tree or the veil of a bride flies.
Photographing the movements, effects and sometimes heavy consequences of the mistral, Rachel Cobb offers with these images, on view at Folia gallery in Paris, a singular and striking portrait of Provence, between the invisible and the visible.