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Arles 2023 : Efet Shows Itself


I will not return to this last vintage of the Rencontres d’Arles which confirms a deterioration in their photographic interest. This disappearance of the initial and essential spirit of the rencontres has gradually been evident over the past ten years. The acceleration has intensified since the end of the last decade, the intermission of the global epidemic not helping.

This spiritual collapse that everyone was talking about without ever realizing that the photography was following the same fate. While the festival was confiscated from the photographers to fall into the hands of the administrators, the apprenticeship of photography rejected the same photographers to be subjected to the discourse of “socio-philosophical” teachers.

In recent years, some renowned public or private institutions have presented us with many photographic horrors, as if they were masterpieces from the young so-called emerging generations.

In the sad slump of this year, a few independent photographic critics, unaccustomed to real Rencontres, found themselves unable to share their feelings. As a result, they showered us with enthusiastic descriptions of the various Arles monuments that hosted exhibitions, accompanied by a few meager words directly provided by the organisations to justify their presence.

However, between two restaurants on rue Fanton (headquarters of the Rencontres), there was a small glimmer of hope with the work of students from EFET. This Parisian school of photography has always been slightly on the sidelines of other schools and fashions, for the feeling it gave of always being interested in photography.

Everything that the students – present on site for the most part – showed, let us imagine that the school would return to learning  fundamental technics and that an image is not necessarily designed to make fun of the public. Everything is not perfect, it is always difficult at twenty to translate a creative will without perfectly mastering constructive technologies.

Let’s stop using the pretext of so-called generational conflicts to justify the incompetence in transmission. Our grandchildren are neither smarter nor dumber than our great-grandparents. The Efet seems to give priority to the mastery of essential technologies. We should be happy about that for the future. Because, this future depends on what everyone does with his knowledge, one still has to have knowledge, one own knowledge (not that of google, his expensive box or a computer).

Let’s hope that the EFET, followed by its colleagues, will really come back to basics: the management of knowledge through curiosity and dialectics through the quality of images.

Thierry Maindrault


Campus EFET Photographie
20 rue Bouvier
75011 PARIS

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