All around me, for the past few years, it has been coming back to my ears regularly. “How things suck? How can you be so incompetent pushing yourself over the edge? All professions are concerned, from the banker to the plumber, from the notary to the welder, etc. It must be said that our little pandemic has done nothing to improve the agility of the fingers and the brain of many of us (I am certainly part of the lot!)
What is heartbreaking is that the so-called “artistic” milieu, which was already on a very slippery slope before this virus, seems to be completely lost afterwards. The fashionable multitude of photographic manifestations forming emblematic standard-bearers of this stupidity.
I share with you excerpts from my last three anecdotes.
Aix-en-Provence, a small intellectual and pictorial competition between a painter (François Marius Granet, 1775-1849) and a photographer (Bernard Plossu, contemporary), both known and recognized. Opening scheduled at 6:30 p.m., invitation card in hand. The guests arrive, pass security barrier and control, then they are parked in an interior courtyard of the museum. Surprise, the exhibition is completely closed; because, for the prestige of the invited talkers, the doors should only open only after the stupid speeches, without interest, of the personalities and the beginning of the aperitif. You’ll quickly understand, I saw nothing and drank nothing. At 7:00 p.m., the personalities were still expected, my photographer friends and I were on the way out (250 km, for one way trip and nothing to see-). A very surprising situation given that the curator of this exhibition is the patron of the museum himself (Bruno Ely), assisted by his director of the museum’s conservation department. In addition, communication and events were in the hands of the communication department (Véronique Staïner and Johan Kraft) of the City of Aix-en-Provence. I am surprised that such professionals can overshadow the interest in the works which is the absolute priority of the people who came. Unfortunately, this was not the only blunder in this picturesque event. The icing on the cake, this exhibition is included and supported by Grand Arles Express 2022 [Rencontres de la Photographie].
Cities of the PassCop (Parisian suburbs), a community of municipalities (this additional administrative layer which has picked up a whole host of skills stolen from the cities which compose it), including the culture which is part of this batch of centralized public services. Organization of a Photography Festival (one more, it’s fashionable), why not? One of our colleagues, a talented creative photographer, has been asked to provide some photographs (in the form of digital files, without further details). Without knowing where or how his images, which will be selected by a jury (with an unknown composition), will be exhibited. During the opening, he learns that his works are exhibited in Chennevières, a commune of the community (it goes without saying). I am lucky to be the subject of one of the selected photographs. A real chance! The photographs, installed on tarpaulins, were hung on sidewalk railings, under some trees. My friend assured me that never have so many dogs pissed on me and that I have never received so many pigeon droppings on my head. Fortunately, I had my hat on for this photograph. As far as amateurs or those curious about the relationship to the image are concerned, the four-legged canine was obligatory. Congratulations to the curator of this very entertaining exhibition and to the brilliant scenographer who both should resume some evening classes in their favorite school.
Arles, the European Festival of Nude Photography which is not a newborn, it is the twentieth anniversary of this very honorable event. With for this year a fairly high level of European artists who are rather better than in the past. The program, published on the internet, had made my mouth water with some beautiful presentations. First delirium, the event lasts only four days. It’s amazing, the so-called world capital of photography has already lost some feathers; but there, it’s top. The investment required of the photographers, the prints, the hangings, the trips, the working hours of the organizers for a single weekend open to the public (and to others). In addition, all exhibitions were closed to the public before and during the opening at 7:00 p.m., the Saintes Anne chapel, the only open room of the three official exhibition buildings. Opening, if we can still call it that, no Mayor (Patrick de Carolis), no cultural assistant (Claire de Causans), both out to lunch. Alone and isolated, the president (Bruno Rédarès), a little overwhelmed by the return of his Festival to center stage, was agitated. Otherwise no one… except the municipal officials who had activated the closing of the premises; their eagerness to ensure this mission was such that one of the exhibitors could no longer recover his personal belongings blocked inside the building. We were spared speeches, we had at least won that. For the aperitif (I hadn’t come for that either, since the beginning of the afternoon, so no worries), according to the president, it was postponed to the Sunday evening closing. Endings are also one of those commercial and bizarre innovations very fashionable in galleries, festivals that have understood nothing feel obliged to follow foolishly, without any justification. I was not able to meet a single one of the thirty or so exhibiting authors, the press badges had also been forgotten and too bad for the photographers present who would have liked to chat. I also noticed that people, coming from outside, were clearly disturbing the aficionados and other local courtiers.