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Arles 2017 – “Photography outside the box” themed visit


Every day this week, we have presented a themed tour of Arles and its photography festival, with the idea that you may have just a single day to enjoy the visit. Today’s theme alludes to collections, in the broad sense of the term: images we dust off, assemble, and sometimes look at with the fascination aroused by a historical document.

We begin today’s tour by going straight to the workshops, on the opposite end of the town—but of course not before a cup of ice tea to get ready for the walk. The exhibition Annie Leibovitz Archive Project #1: The Early Years features hundreds of photographs from the artist’s archives, pinned to the wall like in a magazine’s editorial office: prints of variable quality organized by year. The experience is intense, rooted in history, as the American artist photographed copiously, as well as fascinating thanks to the number of prominent figures who filed before her lens. If there is one exhibition to see this summer in Europe, this is it. We note the evolution in her way of framing, at first random, then growing more balanced, as well as the omnipresence of the Rolling Stones, as the documentation of their tours is simply stunning.

Next door, the Atelier des Forges hosts Spectre, which is the curatorial team’s short for the exhibition that proclaims that Surrealism is alive and well, even though it leads a somewhat underground life. The assertion is based on the observation of contemporary photography, or, more broadly, photography since 1945. Based on the Pompidou Center photography collections, the exhibition explores some of the themes that emerged in the encounter between Surrealism and photography. It shows how postwar artists were able to draw on the Surrealist sensibility and how they adapted the surrealist relationship to reality by continually subverting the rules of art and pushing the limits of the absurd, even while foregrounding contemporary political issues.

After three or four hours with photography, it’s time to think about lunch, and a nice spot on your way back to the Arles town center is the restaurant Le Criquet, which serves a range of seafood dishes. Next, you may want to digest while perusing La vache et l’orchidée [The Cow and the Orchid], a wonderful exhibition of vernacular Colombian photographs. Claude Reibouillat’s marvelous collection prolongs the exhibition with photographs of dwarfs and giants representing a cross-section of time periods and organized individually or in juxtaposed pairs.

Later in the afternoon, you may want to find a quiet spot to cool off. There’s no better place than the Espace Van Gogh which features Pulsions Urbaines, an exhibition designed as a visual essay about cities that draw their meaning from their very mobility. The exhibition covers half a century of Latin-American photography, with several hundreds of images chosen from the Leticia and Stanislas Poniatowski Collection. The exhibition focuses on reconstructing the imagery of the region’s cities based on projects carried out by photographers who are themselves involved in creating the contentious Latin-American identity.

Finish your visit by the nearby fountain where you can take a well-deserved siesta.

Jonas Cuénin


Festival des Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles 2017
July 3 to September 24, 2017
Arles, France

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