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Arles 2024 : La Mécanique Générale – LUMA Arles : Collection Astrid Ullens de Schooten Whettnall : When Images Learn to Speak – A Conceptualized Documentary Photography


From July 1 to September 29, 2024, Astrid Ullens de Schooten Whettnall and her Foundation A are invited to the Rencontres d’Arles as part of Relectures, revisiter la photographie. Curated by Urs Stahel, the exhibition When Images Learn to Speak presents some 650 prints and 45 photographers, collected over the last 30 years, many of whom have now become thought leaders of documentary photography.

Robert Adams (1937), Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902-2002), Yolanda Andrade (1950), Diane Arbus (1923-1971), Lewis Baltz (1945-2014), Bernd and Hilla Becher (1931-2007; 1934-2015) , Juan Enrique Bedoya (1966), Harry Callahan (1912 1999), Luc Chessex (1936), David Consuegra (1939-2004), Moyra Davey (1958), Facundo de Zuviria (1954), Jean-Paul Deridder (1963) , Peter Downsbrough (1940), Mitch Epstein (1952), Walker Evans (1903-1975), Cesare Fabbri (1971), Hans-Peter Feldmann (1941-2023), Lee Friedlander (1934), Marcello Galvani (1975), Paolo Gasparini (1934), Jim Goldberg (1953), Guido Guidi (1941), Anthony Hernandez (1947) Graciela Iturbide (1942), Gerry Johansson (1945), Tarrah Krajnak (1979), Zoe Leonard (1961), Helen Levitt (1913 2009), Pablo López Luz (1979), Mike Mandel (1950), Miyamoto Ryuji (1947), Francesco Neri (1982), Nicholas Nixon (1947), Jo Ractliffe (1961), Max Regenberg (1951), Martha Rosler ( 1943), Ed Ruscha (1937), Mark Ruwedel (1954), Georges Senga (1983), Larry Sultan (1946), Judith Joy Ross (1946), Ursula Schulz-Dornburg (1938), Sergio Trujillo (1945), Henry Wessel (1942-2018) and Garry Winogrand (1928-1984).



The figures speak for themselves: some 5,500 photographs from around a hundred photographers, collected over the last thirty years. We can deduce from this that Foundation A (Astrid Ullens de Schooten Collection) did not go hunting for gems, but that it focused on ways of seeing, ways of thinking, on approaches. Its collections are understood as a cultural transmission project that supports photography, observation and understanding of the world.

Through this structuring, the collection bears witness to something else at the same time: as beautiful, as formidable even as a photograph can be in itself, it says surprisingly little about the world. If we want to produce a visual language through photography that can be read readable, and is intelligible to everyone, we are obliged to adopt a precise, structured way of proceeding, based on a concept. This is how we meet in the Fondation A collection of this generation of conceptualizing documentary photographers whose structural approach allows us to acquire important knowledge about the world, nature and society, and about the lives of certain beings. humans and living creatures in particular.

Since the 1960s, the isolated image has quickly fallen into disuse. From now on, it is a question of “enunciating”, of constructing entire sentences, of constructing with various pieces of representations and images a block, a network, a grid, a cloud, a story which on the one hand comes closer to reality in all its complexity and which on the other hand facilitate the understanding of images and therefore of reality itself.

These conceptualized documentarians are perhaps the last generation of photographers to have this claim. Because day by day we are sinking a little deeper into limbo, that is to say, into spaces that are no longer perceptible or understandable by the senses.

Foundation A is well on its way to becoming a great monument of this visual culture which could still claim to be visible.

Urs Stahel, curator



01.07 > 29.09.2024
La Mécanique Générale – LUMA Arles
33 avenue Victor Hugo
13200 Arles

Fondation A

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