Sunday, 17 July 2011

Another year, Another Arles; Part 2

Right, so I got the rant over... now to what I liked best this year!

The exhibition I found the most exciting as a whole was that of French Collective Tendance Floue. Here was good quality work which was topical and innovatively put together. Tendance Floue is a collective of 13 photographers, who have been working together for twenty years. Surely a sign of a successful collective! What I appreciated about this show was that all the work was shown in equality; there were no captions near any of the photographs, so it really was a collective consciousness of work. The group jet off to China or India, for example, where they give themselves two weeks to produce a one-off magazine. The resulting imagery is a fresh look at documentary photography. The exhibition comprised of projections, photographs stuck flush on walls, printed on cushions... there was video footage of the collective working together on the edit, and snippets of text from their notebooks.

Installation views of the Tendance Floue exhibition (apologies for poor quality - taken on iphone!)

In addition to the collective show, was a small exhibition showcasing each individual photographer's personal work. It is true that they are a bunch of very talented photographers, even in their own right. You can browse their work on the Tendance Floue site; I especially recommend looking at the following projects; Grins, by Gilles Coulon, Watching TV by Olivier Culmann, and Tu es l'air by Meyer.

Next on my highlights list was the winner of the 2010 Portfolio Award, Swiss artist Augustin Rebetez. I'm a little surprised if he won just on the strength of his single images, as it was the stop motion which caught my attention. A little reminiscent of the Clangers, in a good way, he creates these wonderful narratives, which are sometimes sad, sometimes scary, sometimes humourous. My favourite is Dinner of a Lonely Man;

The annual New Discovery Award was had some interesting work in this year, too... a new discovery for me was Joachim Mogarra, who takes photographs of everyday objects and draws over them to create something different, often with a fantastical narrative. The work reminds me a little of Keith Arnatt in its simplicity and playfulness.

©Joachim Mogarra

I also enjoyed seeing the work of Yann Gross, a Swiss photographer who has documented the (apparently large) "mid-West" scene in the Rhone valley. The work is quite straight documentary photography, but the pictures are well taken and tell an interesting story; one that I find very amusing and quite unlikely, with my knowledge of the Swiss...

©Yann Gross

Other highlights were; the 42m large print by the Chinese artist Wang Qingsong and the New York Times archive, featuring work from Gregory Crewdson, Ryan McGinley and others... this show did make me think that work in magazines is often of a better standard than work on the walls of galleries, but perhaps more of that in another post.

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