The Irish photographer’s new book documenting quirky and unusual 1960’s holiday resorts in the Languedoc region of the south of France gets Kickstarter funding.
The Languedoc-Roussillon Coastal Tourist Development Inter-Ministerial Mission, known simply as the Mission Racine, was a state initiative originally devised by French president de Gaulle in June 1963. The aim of the ambitious project was to carry out major infrastructure works, with a view to developing the French Mediterranean coastline in the departments of Gard, Hérault, Aude and the Pyrenees, transforming the Languedoc-Roussillon coastline into a thriving tourist destination.
Ahead of its time and with high hopes, Mission Racine invited innovative architects to design and construct unique spaces for each town that adapted to the local environment with a concerted effort to preserve parts of the landscape – to this day there are pockets of protected land between developments.
In the fifty holiday seasons since its official opening, Mission Racine has proven to be an economic success, boasting an 18% quota of social housing, allowing more French citizens to take advantage of their ‘paid holidays’ while providing a cheaper alternative to the Cote d’Azur resorts.
Fifty High Seasons, a new Kickstarter-funded photobook by Irish photographer Shane Lynam, takes a unique look at how the region appears half a century later. This outré collection of shabby chalets and neglected undergrowth also documents the strong personal connection the photographer formed with the region over the years (since 2005, Lynam spent most of his holidays there) and how he, too, feels part of its history.
“From early on, I saw Fifty High Seasons as a book project. Over the last few months I’ve been figuring out layout, design and sequencing with a working mock-up”, says Shane.
Extracts of the collection have appeared in various forms, exhibitions and publications recently but, like Mission Racine itself, Lynam’s ambition to see the complete Fifty High Seasons collection printed are close to fruition: “I’ve been looking into ways of publishing the work for the last few years, however, each time I’d get to a certain point and realise that, if I wanted to keep creative control over how it would look, I couldn’t go any further without some funding”, Shane tells Murmur. “The advantage of a Kickstarter is that you can cram what could take six months into one month and the momentum it creates means that you probably sell a lot more books”.
Following its initial launch, the online reaction to the Kickstarter has been very positive. The photographer, surprised by the interest it generated within such a short period, has since increased the target cost for production.
“I knew there was some interest in the printed version of the book but had no way of knowing if people were willing to pay in advance without seeing the final version and having to wait a few months to receive it. With Fifty High Seasons, a majority of the work was done in the four years before the Kickstarter with exhibitions, features and awards. The campaign then sort of takes care of itself once people are made aware. Starting on day one, with a completely new body of work, would be more difficult”, he says.
For now, Lynam’s focus is on getting Fifty High Seasons to book shelves but the photographer is already planning future projects. “I’d like to begin a new body of work here in Ireland by the end of this year and work on it through to the end of 2018. It will be a more structured approach compared to my my last project, Inner Field”.
Words: Edwin Bowe
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