This week was dedicated to summaries of what happened during the Rencontres d’Arles opening week [3-9 July 2017]. Today I conclude with special mentions and quotes from actors I met in Arles. Les Rencontres d’Arles are obviously not only about China. Special mentions must be accorded to some exhibitions whose content and/or scenography were particularly convincing. Here is my selection of exhibitions you should not miss:
Dune Varela, “Always the Sun”
Dune Varela, winner of the BMW Residency at the Musée Nicéphore Niépce, works on landscapes and their representation. Spanning timeframes, she ponders the fragility of the photographic support with pictures culled from museum collections and the Internet or her own photographs. Printed on plaster, glass or ceramic, her images beckon us to places steeped in mythological or mystical meanings that have become part of our collective consciousness. Traces of time and history at these endlessly photographed tourist sites are eroded until the artist’s interventions finally finish them off. Photography, which fulfils the need to remember but is also a metaphor for what is no longer there, invents new temples as vulnerable as itself.
Masahisa Fukase, “Fukase: The Incurable Egoist”
This is the first retrospective of Masahisa Fukase to take place in Europe, and the first major exhibition to consider his work since the establishment of the Masahisa Fukase Archives, allowing much previously unseen material to leave Japan for the first time. Fukase is widely regarded as one of the most radical and influential photographers of his generation, whose international career took off in the 1970s and culminated in the success of his landmark work “The Solitude of Ravens”, but was later cut short by a tragic accident that left him in a coma for the last decades of his life. This presentation, devised for Arles 2017, considers all aspects of Fukase’s practice from the 1960s onwards, drawing on vintage prints and graphic work, as well as archival magazines and publications, to show the extent of the artist’s working life. Dealing with issues of family, love, friendship, loneliness, and death, activated photographically through performance, self-portraiture, play, and comedy, the exhibition establishes Fukase as one of the most innovative and original Japanese artists of the post-war period.
"The Cow and the Orchid: Generic Colombian Photography”
The Cow and the Orchid originates from the rich collection of Timothy Prus, the curator of The Archive of Modern Conflict since 1992. This exhibition weaves together different strands of vernacular vision to create a layered collage that draws on the diversity of the environment. From the Caribbean and Pacific coasts through the Andes to the fertile plains, from the Amazon Jungle to the heaving cities unknown, images have been sourced and can now be seen here.
“Iran: year 38, 66 Iranian photographers”
Between visual poetry and documentation, this exhibition offers an overview of contemporary Iran, 38 years after the Islamic Revolution. With this exhibition, the curators Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh and Newsha Tavakolian wanted to introduce those who are shaping the image of Iran today. A very diverse mix of photographers, artists and filmmakers portraying a country still caught up in revolution and war, but also fast-changing beyond recognition.
It is time now to conclude this round-up of the Rencontres d’Arles. I would like to give voice to some actors I had the opportunity to meet during this opening week and who gave me their overall impression of the festival. Below is a compilation of their inspiring quotes (and sometimes snapshots).
Arles in a few words: encounter, excitement, discovery
Your highlight: Saint-Anne Church’s exhibition
Bérénice Angrémy, Head of the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival
Arles in a few words: sorbet, encounters, shufu 舒服 [Chinese word for “comfortable”]
Your highlight: The Chassagnette restaurant
Pierre Bessard, publisher
Arles in a few words: international, discovery, culture
Your highlight: Roger Ballen and Mathieu Pernot
Nataline Colonnello, Director of the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing
Arles in a few words: marathon, eclectic
Your highlight: Projections at the Roman Theatre, the Archevêché
Tim Franco, photographer
Arles in a few words: movie atmosphere, photographic energy, scenographic innovation
Your highlight: Exhibitions on Monsanto and Levitt France, Griffeuille Voies Off festival in Arles suburbs
Eric Leleu, photographer
Arles in a few words: convivial, inspiring, disquieting
Your highlight: Looking for Lenine and Mathieu Pernot
Patrick Wack, photographer
Arles in a few words: My Arles!
Zhen Shi, artist
Arles in a few words: Cute, time, dream
Silin Liu, artist
The Rencontres d'Arles
Until September 24, 2017