Futile Utile : Lure 2010

lure

In August 2010 I had the honor to be invited to Les Rencontres Internationales de Lure, a meeting that takes place in the charming Provincial village of Lurs. It was my first time to Lure and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this curious yearly gathering affiliated to what seemed a rather modest organisation. From reading what little information I could get my hands on, Lure was probably going to be a far cry from the star lined festivals I had come accustomed to as a journalist. My only real source had come a few weeks earlier from a colleague of mine working for a graphic design journal in Paris. She politely expressed her experience as a meeting of dinosaurs who bizarrely rounded off the week with a traditional game of pétanque and the drinking of pastis. Her description immediately put a smile on my face. Somehow I knew I could probably fit in on that scene. Beyond that though, Lure was a mystery hidden on a hill behind olive trees and sun dried plains of thyme fields.

Arriving in the heat of the day to what can only be described as a sleepy picturesque corner of the south of France, it quickly came apparent that I wasn’t going to be assisting a show of conferences projected on to forty foot screens, nor pitching up at the local watering hole mingling with happy festival goers. Not that I hadn’t passed a few smiles dotted around, it just seemed very low key as I posed my bag at the cafe and ordered a drink. Wearing bright blue shoes and checkered trousers, I looked more like a cross between a lost tourist and a French chef from the future. What was I doing here?

Three days later I was back in Paris. What happened in those three short days changed my life in a profound manner. Nothing dramatic though, I mean I lost nothing, there were no peculiar events, she hadn’t said no, no loss of life, no murder was committed. I even came back in tact without bruises or scars. English humour aside though for a moment, it should be said that only very rare events can bring about such change in one’s understanding of culture and ultimately in one’s outlook on life. Going to Lure is one of those experiences.

Les Rencontres de Lure has been going strong for sixty years. It is the oldest event of its kind, perhaps the only event of its kind because it is so unique. Lure organises a number of events during a week that is packed with more bravura than Houdini breaking out of a giant can of baked beans. The staple intellectual diet revolves around an eclectic mix of lectures, fascinating as they are entertaining and at times heated, Lure draws in a fidel crowd of typophiles, literati and culture fanatics. A gregarious group of all ages exchanging on all levels and always with dear sincerity and great respect.

I am not going to cite the talented people who have had the honor to pass through the doors of La Chancelerie, that modest sized embassy of the letter, in which we assist with eye, mind and heart open wide. Nor the influential people who have built, and continue to from generation to generation, what is clearly a movement of extreme cultural importance. At Lure, the subjects array from philosophy, literature, the visual, performance and sonic arts, to graphic design, typography, sociology, politics and psychology. Language and the written letter is perhaps what brings them all together. However, that is only one view of what happens at Lure.

Lure is not a festival, it is not a hang out for culture groupies, it is not for praising the creative Gods and Goddesses of the contemporary or golden age. Lure is a meeting place open to all, in which we are all equal. It is a space that is created physically and mentally in which only exchange and enrichment can happen. It is an experience and like art, is more than anything an experience of all the senses. Since 2010, I continue to go back to Lure, I am a young passer by, perhaps even a minor recruit. A space cadet with blue shoes who finally got around to the closing tradition in 2012’s edition. The throwing of metal balls in to the night’s starry sky whilst gulping the local nectar which are activities that assist in the passing on of age long traditions and future hopes.

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