L’Echo de Sara
In October-November 2022, my artistic residency at the Ateliers de la Madeleine in Arles began, focusing on the captivating figure of Sainte Sara. Intrigued by oral storytelling, alternative portrayals of femininity, and the political implications surrounding personal space, I delved into the enchanting world of this “Black Virgin” of Camargue, studying its history through various written and oral narratives.
During my artistic exploration, I had the privilege of attending the October procession in Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer, where relics and a statue of the Saints were venerated within the church until the seashore. Coming out of the church, I had the great fortune to meet Esmeralda, a highly esteemed member of the gypsy community. Given the integral role of oral tradition, particularly among women in this community, Esmeralda generously shared the enduring stories of Saint Sara, passed down through generations by her illustrious grandmothers.
Through these interactions, Esmeralda also shared aspects of her own life, which has been marked by significant experiences, as well as her tireless dedication to empowering women constantly on the move. I feel an immense sense of pride and gratitude to have been able to delve into her journey and experiences. The compelling stories shared by Esmeralda have ignited within me the courage to share not only my own narrative, but also the narratives of other women. Her extraordinary bravery and unwavering sincerity reaffirm the vital importance of communication when it comes to sharing our collective experiences.