Monday, 19 July 2010

Les Rencontres d'Arles

A week ago I got back from Les Rencontres d’Arles, one of the biggest and oldest Photography Festivals in the world. And I was bowled over – it truly is amazing.

Arles is a beautiful town in Provence, its Roman history still apparent in the old town, which is complete with Arena and Roman Amphitheatre. For 2 months during the Summer, the town is dedicated to Photography – exhibitions crop up everywhere; disused warehouses, churches, bars and restaurants, empty shops… not to mention the projections which go on at night, at the Amphitheatre, in squares and in the streets.

The first week is that of the Rencontres (or “Meetings”); that is, a week for professional photographers or enthusiasts to meet one another and network. Seminars and conferences are held outside in a leafy square, portfolio reviews take place for those who can afford them, and every time you go for a beer you bump into a famous face from the industry.

It is apt that the first Rencontres I go to has the logo of a Rhino. Ever since playing a bit part in Ionesco's Absurdist play Rhinoceros while studying French at uni, I have been somewhat obsessed with these animals. Needless to say I bought the t-shirt.

It was for the Rencontres that I was there – in a rather budget fashion, camping just up the road. But this was also a great opportunity to meet other photographers from around the world – Eva Schwimmer and Holger R Weimann from Austria, whose project about Cosplay re-enactors takes them all over the word, fellow Londoner Andy Sewell, whose book The Heath is about to be published, as well as many photography enthusiasts from Germany and other parts of France.

Camping also meant that we got to pass this every night. A huge projection (or was it screening?) on the roof of an old warehouse, of waves tumbling against the shore.

The website says there are 60 exhibitions; in the week I was there I didn’t get to see every one. But the ones I did see were very inspirational – if not because of the work then because of the way the show was curated. The use of space (both dedicated exhibition space and “dead” space) was wonderful, a revelation to me. In the following few blog posts, I will break down my account of the festival into the way that it itself was broken down; exhibitions were curated under three themes: the Argentinian trail, the Rock trail, and the Analogue trail.

1 comment:

  1. i didn`t found this fantastic blog.
    it found me
    james nitsch


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