Friday, 12 July 2013

Arles ahoy!

Breakfast overlooking the Camargue

It is hard to believe that going to Les Rencontres d'Arles could be considered work, with its lush surroundings & amazing exhibits, but it is I promise. Before I begin I must point out that I took these photos with my iPhone so I do not expect to win any awards with them. They do give the general idea though I hope...

View from my rooftop terrace, with bird

So of course I must begin with some sickeningly lovely views from the roof of my abode throughout, what a way to start the day.

This is not a long blog in terms of deep discussions on photography, rather a snap shot & impressions of the festival, which I must say was a big improvement on last year overall. 

Prep for projections in the Theatre Antique

The prep had begun when I arrived on the 1st July & seeing the Theatre Antique in the day was a lovely reminder of the projections to come & how magical it is to sit & watch them in the evening. 

       Portfolio reviewing 

My reviewing began the same day I arrived at 3pm, so there was no time to waste, I had to dive right in!

 Portfolio reviewing 

My list was ready & waiting for me, so I was set to go, after grabbing a strong coffee ( I had left my house at 3.30am so was in need of caffeine) I began the first session of 10 reviews of 20 mins each. It is a little like speed dating without the alcohol I'm told. Whether or not this is a good thing I leave to those I reviewed. So far no complaints, I really enjoy them. 

Portfolio reviewing 

On a couple of occasions I took a picture of the person I was reviewing, in the case above the photographer Filippo Capodaglio held his work up in front of his face. Not particularly helpful as a way of reminding me what he looked like, but a nice snap all the same...

Portfolio reviewing with Naohiro Ninomiya 

On occasion a language barrier could hold things up. However with the language skills of the amazing staff we were back on track with lots of hand waving etc... 


  Portfolio reviewing 

Another 3 review sessions followed with some great images. I loved this image by Hiroyasu SugiyamaThe mysterious almost spectral ones were really beautiful. I look forward to seeing more...

©Laure Campredon
Here I am enjoying a review, thanks for this Laure, I love the pic! I look almost human...

In all I saw 42 portfolio's so a lot to digest in 4 days. I have lots of reading material to go through now I'm back, phew!

PS: The first gallery salon event on 23 July is fully booked. The next salon is scheduled for 30 July, to book a place please email 

For full details click on this link

Swan mascot in Place de la Republique 

And so to the rest of the festival, with the Swan mascot in the square & one day when it rained early so nice & cool I hit the sheds (Ateliers) to see some shows with Vee Speers.

©Daido Moriyama installation

One of the things that is always great about the festival are the amazing spaces & installations. This Daido Moriyama was a fishnet extravaganza with large contact sheets laid over the multiple patterning behind. 

Gallery Huit

One of the most lovely spaces is Gallery Huit, a place I would love to live in with its 17th century features. The eclectic mix of objects & photographs were worth the visit. I loved the arrangements of East/West items on display.

Who doesn't have time for a poodle in a bell jar?
Location: Gallery Huit 

Sugimoto show installation 

After the Gallery Huit, the sharp contrast of the Sugimoto display REVOLUTION at the Espace Van Gogh was practically spiritual with its quiet reflective minimalism. The sombre space was perfect for his landscapes. 

Mark Foxwell from Genesis Imaging observes the Sugimoto show with Dan Dubowitz  

Soon after this was snapped, a barrage of people zoomed in to take the same photo as Mark looked so right in font of it in his cowboys hat. One thing that you can guarantee in Arles is a lot of photographers taking pictures of the same thing. Not very inspiring, but quite funny.

©Jacques Henri Lartigue installation shot 

Focusing on the years of his marriage to Madeleine Messager affectionately known as 'Bibi' from 1918-30 - the Jacques Henri Lartigue show was a good show. Unfortunately the focusing on the stereo's were not quite right & not all the works were originals. The space as usual was fantastic.

©Jacques Henri Lartigue stereo view

©Jacques Henri Lartigue album

I love photo albums & still make my own (yes old fashioned I know) Lartigue's are stunning. This is a lost art, but still relished by many thankfully.The way these are arranged on the page entices you in before you even see what the images are.

©Michel Vanden Eeckhoudt viewed by Vee Speers

Back to my morning with Vee...

We were both blown away by the incredibly moving imges of animals by Michel Vanden Eeckhoudt. The anthropomorphic approach brought you closer to the animals. Seeing the fingerprints of this primate was especially moving.

Vee Speers peers!
©Laura Noble
Using frames with different depths all hung close together gave a sculptural element to this work, undulating like the landscape depicted. 

More great ideas

Loved this frame! 
(see link for more info)

I am always looking for new ways to display things, I would love to get my hands on the frame above....

Gordon Parks installation

And so to one of my favourite shows, the amazing Gordon Parks a photographer that is well known in the USA. I have loved his work from the moment I saw it. What really made my day was to see the colour prints included in the show. This multi-talented man was not only a great photographer but also a film director, writer & musician. 

©Gordon Parks in glorious colour

Black children peer through a fence into the playground exclusively for whites in the image above. Parks' ability to convey the injustice of American society & the Civil Rights Movement is exceptional. Here, he not only tells a story but has also composed the scene beautifully. 

More installations

©Daido Moriyama installation

For those of you with a fishnet fetish, this is the show for you! Daido Moriyama's quirky display makes an impression. Not sure if I liked this more from a distance, it was dizzying close up. I have been a big DM fan for many years & have countless books by this man, I think I prefer to sit with my books & take my time. I felt I could't stand for very long in front of these with so much going on it felt a little oppressive. 

Vee Speers in front of a ©Wolfgang Tillmans print

Is bigger better, I'm not convinced it is. Wolfgang Tillmans giant prints are just that to me, big prints of random stuff that no matter how hard I try I can't get into. There are often individual images of his I really like. I understand it is about collective display & curation but I can't bring myself to love it, sorry Tillmans fans. Please convince me otherwise...reminds of something Duane Michals once said about size...

©Jean-Michel Fauquet installation
Now this was an installation I could get excited about. Jean-Michel Fauquet is a gem whose I had never seen in the flesh. His sculptures coupled with dark & intense photography, framed exquisitely left me wanting to go back again & again. This work dazzles the senses & takes you to the dark corners of your mind through his imaginings without a care in the world.

©Jean-Michel Fauquet

I really wanted to go back to see this again, with more time to look around but alas time ran out.

Craig J. Barber 
©Laura Noble

I also met the lovely Craig J. Barber whose tintypes of small-scale farmers who live & work the land in upstate New York were a delight. 

©Sugimoto speaks 

And so to Hiroshi Sugimoto...where do I begin? Firstly I saw the talk he gave about his work including his method of taking the 'Polarized Color' series, which was helpful for my future visit to the exhibition in Arles.

©Hiroshi Sugimoto installation

The curation in the empty church that housed this show was perfect. Hanging the scarves from the ceiling like flags with a raised aisle leading you to the tall prism that Sugimoto used to catch the sunlight in order to cast the colours onto his studio walls, which he photographed with his old Polaroid camera. In transferring them onto Hermés scarves the Polaroid element vanishes from view & becomes consumerism. 

©Hiroshi Sugimoto installation

Made me think of Winchester Cathedral...

The branded scarf with the artistic connection, limited editions etc is ok if you like that sort of thing. As a project about colour & an artists fascination Sugimoto spoke fervently & I was gripped. As a show it left me thinking about colour wheels & painting classes at school. Call me cynical, but perhaps only a famous artist could do this & get a show in Arles....  

©Hiroshi Sugimoto installation

The scarves reminiscent of cassock's were a nice touch, very fitting for the venue.  

©Hiroshi Sugimoto installation

Great space

Espace Van Gogh gardens 

The Guy Bourdin show was great. When Shelly Verthime found a box filled with brown envelopes containing a negative & corresponding black and white print in 2011 she found a treasure trove some of which is beautifully displayed in Arles. 

My hand is not touching the glass by the way, just held up for scale

I really hope this show tours as it displays the 'untouched' images dating back to the early 1950's. A rare & wonderful selection.

©Guy Bourdin - Yes it is Battersea Power Station

There is so much more to say, but alas time is not on my side.

What follows are some sundry holiday snaps taken on my phone, Arles is always an amazing place to go...

It was very hot

My usual rummaging spot had slim pickings this year 

Hérmes scarf circa 1960 

This is a Hermés scarf I would love to own...

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