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Arles 2023 : Camp


It was one of the good surprises, so rare, in this latest version of what was for several decades the greatest event for photographers around the world. We already said so, for the last five years, the photographers became systematically excluded (except to be used as an asset by the others) in this ex-capital of their animated meetings, well celebrated This improvised and festive atmosphere is gone, replaced by many other interests, and this, by a swarm of new interlocutors whose photographic culture borders on absolute zero.

This little update for photosensitive brains and because, miraculously, a famous fly lingers in an independent gallery on City Hall Street. This fly is precisely the symbol of the emancipation of photographers who rejected, in their time, the semi-mafia economic and financial systems which enslaved their work and their creativity in Japan.

This impulse which in the Japanese system of the time was more than a revolution and bordered on intellectual, cultural and moral subversion.

The master Daido Moriyama who taught photography, tolerated less and less the control of the economic circuit which put the photographers of the time under total dependence. Thus, following various reflections with his students, they opened in June 1976, in a small room in Tokyo, what they would call “a store for images”. They baptized it “CAMP” in reference to the general notion of camping that prevailed in this place. The primary goal was to promote the work of the members and to organize a maximum of exhibitions and sales outside the traditional circuits (among others the galleries of the great industrialists of photography).

Through more than 200 exhibitions in eight years, Camp introduced leading designers such as Keizo Kitajima, Seiji Kurata, Osamu Takizawa, Noriko Shibuya and Susumu Fujita, etc. Of course, in this context, all sorts of experiments, both technical and visual, were undertaken.

The Arles exhibition offers us the discovery of the works carried out by the members of the Camp adventures (including many vintages). Anecdotally, the reconstruction (upstairs) of the first premises of the “IMAGE SHOP CAMP” opened at 2 Chome street in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. The visit is a must for all our so-called emerging creators, not out of nostalgia for a time that…; not ; but, to soak up what can be a veritable melting pot of creativity.

For the rest, just as unavoidable, the works of the masters of this Japanese school, with very difficult photographs technically (we are still in analog) and totally unbridled philosophically in their representation.

There is still a little Photography in the Arles of 2023, can we dream of blowing on the few embers to rekindle the fire for the images taken by photographers.

Thierry Maindrault



Espace Sinibaldi d’Arles
24 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville
13200 Arles

from July 18 to August 26, 2023
Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 01:00 pm and 014:00 pm to 07:00 pm

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