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Arles 2023 : Yann Arthus-Bertrand : “L’encyclopédie des Français”


Meeting with Yann Arthus-Bertrand at the Nord-Pinus in Arles; He told us about his project “L’encyclopédie des Français”.

For more than 30 years, Yann Arthus-Bertrand has photographed the French accompanied by those they love, their families and their animals.

It all started in 1994, with photographs commissioned by the Express which unknowingly initiated a major work on the French. Over the years, the project has been enriched with photos of breeders and their cattle, workers in Reunion, French people and their horses captured on the same tarpaulin.

He continued with shots throughout the territory, whether in Boulogne-Billancourt, Saint-Tropez or in his studio in his home village of Les Mesnuls. Participants come either in work clothes or in their everyday clothes and each receives a digital file of a selection of photos.

As these projects progressed, an idea, a dream, a desire matured in him, that of drawing a social portrait of France, our portrait.

Like August Sanders, Seydou Keïta or Irving Penn, photographers he admires, Yann Arthus-Bertrand wants to produce simple and authentic images. In the spirit of village photographers, he wants to create useful photographs for our common memory. To do this, he goes out to meet real people to try to define what makes France, what constitutes our identity.

It is also a project that we are building together, an exchange project that allows to build up a great image of France, like a family photo album.

This year Yann decided to complete the dissertation that fascinated him. Following a meeting with Hervé Le Bras, French demographer and historian, he decided to transform this photographic work into a real demographic and educational project.

For a year, the photographer and film director will travel throughout the territory exploring the question: what does it mean to be French today? This project will be presented in the form of a book, L’encyclopédie des Français, but also a film or an exhibition.

This year, more than 30 photo studios will be organized across France. During the summer of 2023, Yann Arthus-Bertrand will be in Cherbourg, Arles or even Céret. A fixed studio is installed in Paris in the 15th arrondissement, avenue du Maine and will be open to everyone from June 26 to 28 and in September. During the year, our teams will also go to Gex, Angers, Forbach, Rennes, Lyon, Perpignan, Charleville-Mézières, Martigues/Marseille, Doissin, Château-Renault, and many other others to come.

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