BY BRUNO AVEILLAN
TEXT BY ZOÉ BALTHUS
Table of Contents
- 2.The Peace Treaty
- 3.Far from the turmoil of the city
- 4.Take the child by the hand
- 5.The Island of Tranquility
- 6.The Taste of Freedom
- 7.Kingdom of Children
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Sonu and Eva
The Peace Treaty
Eden at last. Nature and tranquility. I have just slept fifteen hours non-stop. I had told the children that I was exhausted and that they were going to have to leave their mother and I, alone, for 48 hours of absolute peace and quiet. After that we would give them all our attention, my attention in particular, which had been somewhat lacking over this last year.
“Do you promise, Papa?” whispered the youngest mischievously.
“Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye!” I said. “There. Now you promise.
“We promise Papa!” shouted the little girl jumping on my knee. The boys were instantly hanging from my neck shouting, “Cross our hearts and hope to die!”
They have been amazing. Up until now they have honored the peace treaty completely, not a sound to be heard, only whispering when they come back home. This morning a nanny came to pick them up for a play date with other children, some of whom they’ve known since they were tiny. We’ve been coming here since the eldest was born. Other families, who have now become friends, also come here at the same times of year that we do.
The next five weeks are going to be filled with absolute joy. I want the children to remember their father as attentive and amusing, entertaining even, with laughter and talk and playing for hours on end. I want them to remember a truly contented family life and lasting friendships. I particularly don’t want them to have a picture of some serious, uncompromising man in a suit, an insensitive and intimidating character.
I like the idea of them trusting me, trusting us, and trusting our way of life, with consideration for each other, the people we are close to and the countryside around us. As the years go by this will remain our secret haven, the place where they first discovered the world’s great beauty, on land, in the sky or beneath the sea. This is our very own fantasy island.
Far from the turmoil of the city
My wife had been reading on the beach. She joined me while I was sleeping. She needs her peace too. These hours of sleep, calm and tranquility are vital for us.
We have had several exquisite hours of rare intimacy, here in this house which we so love. It’s been years that we’ve been coming here to take refuge, sometimes with the children, sometimes without, as soon as we felt we needed to get away from the city turmoil and recover our energy together. She the city-girl, wife and mother. Me, the business man, husband and father. Here, to nourish our relationship and cherish our children.
After a delicious lunch for two, we went off to swim in the clear blue sea and then in the swimming pool. We laughed and talked, fooling around, in love. Then we fell asleep in each-others’ arms, a perfect siesta on tender green cushions, under the deep blue sky.
After I awoke, I stayed to watch her sleep for some while. She was smiling. The rays of sunlight lit up her brown hair and made her copper-colored skin sparkle. I breathed in her gardenia perfume, like a student in some pleasurable state of intoxication.
Take the child by the hand
It all brings back my own childhood memories. I think about my parents and brothers and sisters and our own modest holiday.
What I remember most by far, is missing deeply some tenderness and complicity of my father. It wasn’t really the way of things at the time. And he didn’t really have time, or he didn’t make time.
I wanted to do things differently with my kids. I especially didn’t want to have that cold indifference of his, or let my wife have the privilege of all the affection. They need mine as much as I need theirs, and I don’t mind saying it. Nothing can compare to their gentleness. Now I am a father myself. I want my fair share of the kisses and cuddles. I want to show them and tell them how much I love them, and that they should never doubt it. They can count on their mother and I, until we die.
It’s our ritual during the holiday. Every day, I take one of the children by the hand and out of the house. They get to choose where they want to go, and by what means and we leave the rest of the family behind, to get on with their things. Thus, we do things that belong only to us. We chat about things with varying degrees of importance and we discover our beautiful island together. They are free to ask me any question on earth and to tell me whatever is on their mind, whatever might be worrying them or on the contrary to tell me what makes them happy. The idea is not to so much to set them straight or to censure them in any way, it’s more a matter of trying to explain the world in which we live, which can sometimes be so cruel, and to explain the life we lead. I want them to feel confident. I want them to feel loved and understood, so that they, in turn, can love and understand others. We are teaching them about complicity, the importance of groups of friends, the value of confiding and of secrets and intimacy. Not to mention teaching them to be attentive to potential dangers without making them too scared.
The Island of Tranquility
You should see the children sliding down the long toboggan, screaming with laughter and excitement before they drop directly into the cool water of pool. I have to admit that I sometimes succumb to the child in me and allow myself the pleasure of sliding down with my daughter or one of my sons in my arms. Sometimes I have all three of them wild with joy and I take them down into the water.
I love hearing their laughter mixed with the splashes. And every single time the little one, soaking wet and her cheeks burning with excitement, never fails to cry out happily, “Again Papa! Again!”
I never worry about my family here. Even if my wife and children are far from sight and even if none of them are being watched by the usual staff, I have no fear for them. For this is the island of peace and tranquility.
The Taste of Freedom
When the boys go off with their friends, like a group of small men, I feel a great deal of emotion.
I’m not at all anxious, whether they’re on the beach, off on their bicycles or in the forest. It’s quite the opposite in fact, my fears seem to be lifted and I go about light-heartedly with my wife at my side.
The children are doing their own thing, along with other children like themselves, full of fun and games. Nothing bad can happen to them.
If they fall down, they’ll simply get up again. The ground here is so soft that you can’t hurt yourself. In fact we never actually wear shoes here. It’s like walking bare-foot on a velvet carpet. They don’t say ‘no news, no shoes’ here for nothing.
Besides, there is always some kind soul around about, to help them find their way, if needs be, if they get lost on a bicycle ride or playing hide and seek in the woods. There are no dangerous beasties and not even a pine needle to prickle your foot along the way.
Kingdom of Children
The children feel so safe here that they’ve become fearless, saying they’re not scared of anything, they play tough, as long as they’re not alone and it is still daylight of course. We, their mother and I, often laugh at them, when we see them show up again at nightfall. Worn out with happiness, they can hardly stay awake for dinner. Between each holiday time on the island, one thing they never forget is how to get to the magic sweets pavilion. So of course when they come back home, stuffed with cake and chocolate, ice-cream and sweets, of which we often find the sticky remains in their pockets, they never feel much like having dinner. There’s no need to raise our voices for them to put their pyjamas on, so comfortable in their spacious bedrooms, they look forward to bed and are more than ready to get the night’s sleep over with and to set off on their adventures with their friends the next day. They even brush their teeth without having to be told. They drift off to sleep in a land of rather sweet dreams in a matter of seconds.
It’s very fulfilling to be able to provide them with the best the world can offer and to cherish and lavish my family with pleasure and affection, knowing how to make time to see the children happy and free. These precious moments are worth all the pain I feel when so often I have to go away to work, leaving their sides so much more than I would like to, during the rest of the year. But here there is a sort of magic, as if time had been put on hold
Bruno Aveillan, international film director, photographer and visual artist, dedicates his activity to several fields of expression. He has developed a very personal approach to his art which includes photography shows and books as well as experimental films and installations which are regularly exhibited throughout the world. The work of this globetrotter artist focuses above all on the human condition and on the concepts of wandering and memory. His style is characterized by a certain way of “drawing with light” or “obscuring with light” as stated by artist Marcos Lutyens in the foreword of Aveillan’s book Diotopes. As film director and photographer he has received over 180 awards and his work is internationally acclaimed. Many of his pieces feature in prestigious collections, both private and public, throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Further to the exhibition Bruno Aveillan, retrospective of a world master held in 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) of San Diego, the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow (MAMM) held a major exhibition entitled Isolation Ceremony in 2015. Again in 2015, Aveillan’s work was shown at the Grand Palais during the Art Paris show and a major retrospective entitled Flashback was held at the Contemporary Art Center of Perpignan. In 2014, the eminent house Hasselblad published the work of Aveillan’s work in its book VICTOR #2, alongside such great names as David Hockney and Anton Corbijn. Aveillan has published several books including Diotopes (Léo Scheer, 2008), Mnemo # Lux (Kerber, 2010), Fascinatio (Chez Higgins, 2011), Fulguratio (Chez Higgins, 2011), Bolshoi Underground (Au-delà du raisonnable, 2012), Acetate Spirit (NOIR, 2013) and produced experimental films such as Minotaur-Ex (2006), Morpholab (2009), WHEAT (2008) and Papillon (2012).
Zoé Balthus is a writer, an art critic, a blogger and a culture reporter for an international news agency. She has spent about twenty years abroad (Vietnam, USA, Britain, New-Zealand, Pakistan, Uruguay) and keeps on travelling around the world. She wrote essays on Bruno Aveillan’s work published in Mnemo # Lux (Kerber, 2010), Fascinatio (Chez Higgins, 2011), Fulguratio (Chez Higgins, 2011), Bolshoi Underground (Au-delà du raisonnable, 2012), poems Acetate Spirit (NOIR, 2013), foreword and texts in Flashback (NOIR, 2015) as well as texts for his experimental films such as Minotaur-Ex (2006), Morpholab (2009) and Papillon (2012). She also worked with the photographer Olivier Coulange, Txiki Margalef, Claude Rouyer and the sculptors Paul de Pignol, Nicolas Alquin, François Weil, the visual artists Cécile Hug and Bruno Hadjadj. She published the short story Voir, toute une histoire in the litterature review Behind (2015) ; the essay Les Trahisons terrestres de Marina Tsvétaeva in the review La Moitié du Fourbi (2015) ; the short story Amande douce (Derrière la Salle de bains, 2015) ; the essay Walter Benjamin, la plume à l’envers in the review La Moitié du Fourbi (2014) ; the short story A l’extrémité fuyante d’elle-même (Derrière la Salle de Bains, 2013) ; the essay Rilke et Tsvétaeva s’effleurent au septième ciel in the review Nunc (2012).
© 2015, Éditions
Photographs: Bruno Aveillan Texts: Zoé Balthus
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