It’s fascinating to observe the way in which each photographer appropriates this iconic territory, already so well represented yet an inexhaustible source of inspiration. The eclecticism of the 25 projects in this edition of Planches Contact bears witness to this. Since its creation in 2010, the festival’s ambition has been to support creation through a program of commissions and residencies based in Deauville. This year, several generations lived together for a few weeks between February and June. They share their views with us.
Part of the program takes place in the incredible grounds of the Franciscaines, a former orphanage that became a cultural venue in 2021. In the eyes of artistic director Laura Serani, this museum setting is a huge step forward for the festival, which is growing in stature every year. Australian photographer Max Pam presents an immersive exhibition featuring seventy diptychs created under the influence of his dreams, immersing visitors in an astonishing universe where the temporalities of the Côte Fleurie merge. Further on, a retrospective of his work from the 1970s to the late 1990s offers a glimpse of the originality of his work, marked by a visceral need to reach out to the world.
The Franciscaines also host the projects of the five winners of this year’s Tremplin Jeunes Talents program, won by young photographer Julia Lê for her Come Rain Come Shine series of portraits of hotel chambermaids on the Côte Fleurie. This highly sensitive project gives women of all ages the freedom to appropriate their image by pressing the shutter release themselves.
Among the photographers invited to take up creative residencies, Matt Wilson’s poetic proposal blurs the boundaries between photography and Impressionist painting, while Salvatore Puglia’s more conceptual work plays with Eugène Boudin’s paintings and the red pigment that Impressionism never knew. Margot Wallard delves into her family archives, which she sets in dialogue with her own creations. Further afield, continuing a project undertaken as part of the BnF/Ministry of Culture Photography Commission, Olivier Culmann takes us into the offices of the Normandy administration, giving them a human face.
Guest photographers also take over the streets of Deauville. Omar Victor Diop places his characters in an imaginary stroll through the town, a project which will be published by Éditions Louis Vuitton. Near the beach, Italian photographers Jacopo Benassi and Luca Boffi go beyond the limits of photography in astonishing installations where, for Benassi, clichés are hidden from our eyes to leave room for the imaginary, while Boffi integrates his shots into a metal structure enhanced with fishing tackle.
Thomas Jorion also goes beyond the materiality of the print, sensitizing concrete monoliths to light, on which fragments of places and seascapes are imprinted. Jorion is one of five guests of the photo4food foundation, set up by Olivier and Virginie Goy to fund meals for the underprivileged through photography. Julien Mignot and Benjamin Decoin are two others. To answer the question, “What color is the sky today? the former positioned himself against the Normandy horizon and, using a view camera, took a shot each day from sunrise to sunset. The result is a Mark Rothko-like imagery, a painter himself greatly influenced by the Impressionists. Benjamin Decoin also plays with the sublimity of seascapes, which, printed in large format and placed on the beach, change with the tones of the sky and of the sea.
Let’s conclude with one of the original features of this edition. Laura Serani has imagined an original dialogue, a fantasized friendship between Robert Doisneau and Malick Sidibé. For the former, a little-known color series on the golden daily lives of American retirees in Palm Spring in the 1960s. For the latter, black-and-white images of Bamako’s new swimming pool in the early 1970s, in which the energy of Malian youth vibrates. A meeting of two worlds, just like this festival, whose strength lies in the rich exchanges it generates.