The Rencontres d’Arles 2017 Author Prize goes to Henk Wildschut for his book Ville de Calais, published in France by Gwinzegal. This book summarizes the work of the Dutch photographer who, for nearly twelve years, followed the migrants settled near Calais. Photographs shows traces and marks of these transient, invisible existences, rather than retracing their itineraries or making their portraits.
A Special mention for the Book Prize was given to Kent Klisch, for his book Gaza Works, published by the Swedish publisher Koenig Books. This book includes essays by Judith Butler, Mette Sandbye, Raji Sourani, Eyal Weizman and Louise Wolthers. He takes a particular look at photography as an art and means of expression of social, military and cultural conflicts in the world.
The Historical Book Prize at the Rencontres d’Arles 2017 deserves a special mention. It was given to Latif Al Ani, born in 1932 in Baghdad, who recently saw his works published as its very first monograph. Latif Al Ani is considered to be founding father of Iraqi photography. He notably documented the openness and cosmopolitanism of his country from the 1950s to the 1970s. Back then, the photographer was exhibited in Europe or Latin America, before sinking into oblivion. The monograph shows the breadth of its work, highlighting the true “golden age” of Iraq captured by Al Ani, in reverse to the current situation of the country and its civil society. From this happily period, Al Ani photographed the components of his modern, multicultural country. The Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) marked the rigorous, authoritarian and fundamentalist turn that still marks the social, regional and national conflicts of the country. During the American invasion in 2003, Al Ani lost much of its archives. He gradually lost interest in photography. His great age (85 years) does not allow him to practice photography. The artist is also skeptical about the Iraqi cultural heritage and the emergence of a young photographic scene.
In 2015, the public was able to rediscover its work thanks in particular to the 56th Venice Biennale. It was at the initiative of the Ruya Foundation, based in Iraq, that Al Ani was exhibited (Pavilion of Iraq). The artist was awarded the Prince Claus Award, organized by the Dutch royal family; The jury recognized its “leading role in the development of Iraqi documentary photography”. In June 2017, Hatje Cantz published this first monograph of the artist.
Finally the Photo-Text Book Prize is awarded to Masanao Abe for his book The Movement of Clouds around Mount Fuji, published by the German Spector Books. In the 1920s, physicist Masanao Abe undertook the construction of an observatory on Mount Fuji. He photographed frantically. The book unveils contact sheets, drawings, side reflections, writings of the scientist and his fascination for this landscape out of time as much as his studies on the air, the formation of clouds, the wind.