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In 1947, when the Communists were briefly part of a coalition government in France, Fougeron was commissioned to document the lives of the coal miners in the north. He lived with them for eighteen months, producing images that were both realistic and symbolic. In The Cock Fighters, the men''s ruddy features and their groomed cockerels provide the only points of colour in the grey landscape. Since the fighting cockerel is a symbol of French nationalism, these men are dramatised as simultaneously proud, patriotic and downtrodden.

September 2004