Exhibition at the Château des Demoiselles from 27 January to 10 June 2017. The opening will take place on Friday 27 January from 6pm to 8pm


Passionate about cinema, she stops by the Cannes Film Festival every year. Without any particular sesame, she takes photos of film personalities from all over the world, actors and directors.

These portraits have been exhibited in Cannes (Espace Miramar), Paris (Cinéma des Cinéastes) and Château Sainte Roseline.

Passionate about discoveries, she went to Nara (Japan) to meet funny “monkeys” who bring good luck. At the heart of a high-tech society, these figurines express millenary beliefs.

Catherine Vinay translates Japanese elegance and charm into her poetry-filled photographs.

Catherine Vinay

Photographer, author

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“The Japanese Charms of Migawari-zaru”

For a first trip to Japan, a stopover in Nara seemed to me to be a salutary step to take the pulse of a country so far away, to find my way in space when I don’t speak the language or to lose myself in the largest wooden temple in the world.

During this stage, which was intended to restore a little peace of mind, I very quickly discovered in the heart of Nara smallballs of red and white fabrics winging with the wind, often in groups, in front of the traditional houses of the Naramachi district. In these impeccably maintained streets, in front of these perfectly aligned facades and meticulously cared for micro gardens, these small characters seem to discreetly transgress the rules: of irregular sizes, of different numbers and decorated with various inscriptions, they constitute bubbles of fantasy, lightness and poetry.

Near Osaka, 42 km south of Kyoto, Nara irresistibly transmits the soul of old Japan to the visitor: in 710 (and for 74 years) Nara was indeed the capital of this country (before Kyoto and then the present Tokyo). At that time, artists, scientists and technicians came from China and Korea to teach silk weaving, lacquer mastery or architecture. The Gango-ji temple is said to be the first Buddhist temple in Japan and it is around it that the peaceful little streets of the Naramachi district stretch. Most of the houses date from the Edo period (1600 -1868) or have been restored to their original state: they are “Machiya”, long wooden houses with a narrow facade, both a shop or workshop and a place to live.

On these traditional grid façades (which hide from the outside and reveal from the inside) are suspended the “Migawari-zaru”, literally “substitute monkeys”. These red satin figurines are designed to protect the inhabitants of the house from disease and misfortune and to prevent the devil from entering the house. Their number is equivalent to the number of family members. Why evoke the figure of the monkey? Probably because in the lunar calendar, during the monkey’s “Kooshin-days”, the three verses supposed to inhabit the human body, escaped to bring back to the divinity the sins committed by the person. Kooshin was then a deity who protected those who should have been punished by the gods and it was a monkey, his messenger, who was then punished in the place of the sinner.

In a country where high technology seems so well integrated, where courtesy does not seem to hinder economic prosperity, my eye as a photographer has been irresistibly attracted to these characters or monkeys, in any case lucky ones, who innocently defy reason and Cartesian. A prediction on a piece of paper or “omikuji”, a promise on a belt or a prayer scribbled on a head: that’s all it took to make me dream and wish to take you on this path of poetry.

Catherine Vinay

Photographer, author.