Arles, France
3 July – 24 September 2017

 

NEW SPACE

SAM STOURDZÉ
DIRECTOR OF THE RENCONTRES D’ARLES

The more we think a country closed, stuck in political and economic crises, the more we find photographers there. They reveal, describe, demonstrate, invent, repair, build, in their own language, that of the image. They decipher the preliminary signs of societies in upheaval.

The 48th issue of the Rencontres de la Photographie shares this taste for other places. All across the city of Arles—a city of living legacy which, in the space of a summer, transforms into a wonderful place of welcome for our exhibitions—a trajectory emerges that will lead you from Latin America to Iran, from the shores of the Bosphorus to the Syrian border, from Château Davignon to the trailers of Arles. You’ll go on a snorkeling tour of flooded lands; you’ll go by train across the vast Russian landscape; you’ll pick up the pieces of Lenin in Ukraine; you’ll reflect on Monsanto; you’ll follow the life of a Romani family for twenty years… From the local to the global, this 48th issue will take you to the heart of Colombia, immerse you in a new Spanish generation, and introduce you to the sideways glance in Iranian photography— all in a sweeping journey to the heart of busy and complex geopolitics.

SEE THE WORLD
As a matter of fact, the world is moving. Nothing new in this, but it’s moving ever faster. Nowadays images circulate at the speed of light. Technological liberation, once lauded as the acquisition of direct expression, the spearhead of an ever more participative democracy, reveals another face, another use. It puts itself at the service of populist conquests. Have we entered into the age of the war of images, in which each person chooses to make themselves, alternately, the one who disseminates or the one who collects truth or fallacy?

More than ever, we need artists and their ability to capture the apt time. Artists participate in decrypting, in contextualizing, in making new forms of writing emerge; and the festival amplifies their voices, transcribes their simple, efficient, and ambitious program: to see the world as it is, as it could be, as it ought to be.

THANKS TO YOU!
Patrons of the Rencontres have made no mistake. In 2016, you were more numerous than ever before. In fifteen years, attendance at the Rencontres d’Arles increased dramatically, testifying to the growing public interest in photography. The event now occurs as an annual fixture, a freeze frame, an x-ray of artistic creation, as the Rencontres are on the scene for every development in the field of photography, and sometimes at its initiative. Thus, the 48th issue holds a few surprises. The artist Jean Dubuffet appropriates and diverts photographic convention, using its reproducibility to replicate painting and drawing. Roger Ballen works on site for the exhibition itself, offering the visitor an immersive, ballenesque experience.

Virtual reality (VR) promises to be the next revolution in technology. It is a new model for creation, one which is challenging representation and rewriting established codes. It is inspiring artists and producing new forms. The festival supports these major developments related to the image, setting up a new stage for them with the VR Arles Festival, accessible all summer at the Couvent Saint-Césaire. Here, visitors can experience the two dozen films selected for the official competition.

ALL OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Ultimately, we are a photography festival at the service of photographers. Yet, art is an ecosystem with a large number of actors involved, from creation to production to distribution. We support this ecosystem, issue after issue, as a place of welcome, of expression and promotion. Because of its visibility, the festival is a unique platform for the photography community, a common good at the service of all its players: photographers, of course, but also curators, researchers, publishers, collectors, and this year, gallery owners. At Arles, curators find a ground for experimentation that matches their ambitions. In 2017, more than XXXX curators are offering their interpretation of photography. Publishers are now supported largely by the Dummy Book Award and the Book award, while Cosmos-Arles Books brings together around 80 specialized publishers during the festival’s opening week.

The 48th issue continues its interest in art collectors. From the excellent Latin-American collection of Laetitia and Stanislas Poniatowski, to the strange vernacular collection of Claude Ribouillault, devoted to dwarfs, giants and strongmen, collectors are celebrated for the free spirit by which they bring to light neglected areas in the history of photography. And finally, we officially welcome the key players on the art scene with the presentation of the New Discovery Award. Gallery owners, in their pioneering role, are often the first to spot, support, and encourage future talent. They are here invited to nominate an artist of less than 45 years old, whose work they esteem to merit promotion with an international audience. Thus, ten photographers have been selected from among 200 candidates; their work will be presented this summer. It is then up to the professionals to decide, from among these candidates, the winner of the New Discovery award during the opening week.

Clearly, all the players in photography enrich our program, and increase, by a little each year, the significance of the Rencontres d’Arles.

A SPIRIT, NOT A PLACE
This year, we are opening up new spaces, literally as well as figuratively. In 2017, the spirit of the Rencontres will breathe on two new sites. Both are found at the border of the historical center on Boulevard Émile Combes. The sites were built from derelict houses, old shops, warehouses, and urban land. Open to the public for the first time, they’ve been reconfigured as exhibition sites and walkways for the occasion. They add to the Rencontres d’Arles’ reputation as innovator of the city.

But one space can hide another! More than square meters, these are new spaces of photography which, above all, tirelessly mobilize our energy: creative spaces, political spaces, spaces of protest and rebellion, spaces for reflection, and most of all, spaces consecrated to the critical eye and free thinking.

Let’s make it clear—before it is a place, the Rencontres d’Arles are a space of liberty!