In an echo of ancient festivals, cows and bulls form an integral part of summer celebrations in the towns and villages of eastern Spain. Bulls run through streets in the hot afternoon sun – and in the middle of the night – calves chase children around the village square, and young men can live their torero dreams.
This is not the corrida, with it’s formalised structure and celebrity matadors. The aim is not to kill or maim the animals – indeed inflicting any harm on the beasts is officially condemned. These are fiestas organised and enjoyed by the local people.
It’s difficult to imagine these events continuing for many more years. While they seem very popular with the population, and throughout all the months that I periodically photographed them I never saw anyone protest at cruelty, or indeed voice any opposition, I can’t see how they fit into a 21st century europe where even the keeping of animals in zoos is considered morally questionable.
For me the project was an exciting and enjoyable, if occasionally perilous, connection with the rural Spanish people, and I hope the pictures convey something of their exuberance and charm.