Two questions for Catherine Tsékénis
, Director of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès.
Why have you become a patron of the Arles festival? The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès chose to become a patron of the Rencontres d’Arles because the festival is undeniably one of the major worldwide events in the domain of photography. Its reputation is due to the quality of the exhibitions and their diversity. Going to Arles means discovering new work by recognised photographers or older work from a new angle. However it also means discovering the new generation, discovering photographic creativity through the prism of a specific area (a focus on a particular region) and discovering new ideas on the transformation of the medium (new techniques, new usages). This opens perspectives on new aesthetics or introduces us to themes to widen our knowledge. The Rencontres d’Arles are quite simply an opportunity for multiple intellectual and sensory adventures. Above and beyond that, it’s a real meeting point for photography professionals and the public. In the same way as with live performance at Avignon, here you can give free rein to your curiosity in a pleasant and luminous town full of heritage. Part of the charm of the Rencontres d’Arles is also the ambience of the town.
What is photography patronage for you?
The Foundation is dedicated to “Knowhow and creativity “. Photography has a natural place within this remit. It requires technical mastery and therefore knowhow at the service of a certain take on the world, on a creative piece of work. The Foundation takes an interest in various aspects of contemporary creativity and does not limit itself to a particular field. We like this diversity and we love being able to create links between different disciplines. More specifically, the Foundation holds photographic exhibitions in two spaces: at the TH13 gallery in Berne, where Paul Cottin is curator, and at The Gallery in New York, which is curated by Cory Jacobs. Our support for photographic events is part of an extension of this patronage.
The house of Hermès itself is also very much involved in photographic projects. A collection of contemporary photography begun in 2008 allows us to exhibit contemporary works in shops all around the world (around 500 acquisitions up to this point). Other initiatives such as the Carrés Editeur projects with Daniel Buren and then Hiroshi Sugimoto are veritable technical and aesthetic achievements.