MediumsInstitutions 09-08-2017

Rencontres d’Arles 2017 | The Highlights

Visiting Arles over the summer is a question of drawing up a list of priorities.

The famed  photography festival is invariably dense, proffering a plethora of images from canonical artists as well as new talents, so a little guidance is necessary. Despite its age — the Rencontres de la Photographie was founded in 1969 — the event is continuing to gather momentum with a 50% visitor increase over the last five years.

One of the most stand-out presentations is delivered in partnership with the Parisian institute the Jeu de Paume, who are exhibiting the work of Chilean artist Paz Errázuriz (born in 1944) at the newly renovated Atelier de la Mécanique. Having begun her career under Pinochet, Errázuriz went on to co-found the Association of Independent Photographers. Her work focuses on various women's rights movements, as well as documenting marginalised persons including people with mental health problems, circus performers, transvestites and prostitutes, presenting Chili in a new light.


Paz Errázuriz, Mujeres por la vida 1989. From the serie Protestas. © Paz Errázuriz


Roger Ballen, the famed South African photographer, is also present at Arles with his House of the Ballenesque. Both psychologically searching and powerful, the presentation includes recent photographs within a complex yet subtle, mysterious installation.



Emerging talent

It is at the heart of the Atelier Mécanique that the majority of young artists can be found with an exhibition dedicated to the winners of the €20,000 Nouveau Prix Découverte prize: Carlos Ayesta (born in 1985 in Caracas) and Guillaume Bression (born in 1980 in Paris). The pair were chosen for their work on Fukushima Retracing our steps, Fukushima Exclusion Zone, 2001-2016.


Revenir sur nos pas, June, 2016, Namie, © Carlos Ayesta & Guillaume Bression

A no man's land, May, 2012, Odaka, © Carlos Ayesta & Guillaume Bression


Born in 1985, Constance Nouvel is among the young stand-out artists with her Plans-reliefs, a series of five representative spaces. Nouvel defines her practice as a meeting point “using the analogy of different spaces: photography, the photographed and the photographic,” evoking a modern practice that looks to prolong the captured moment through decor, drawing and unique installation.


Constance Nouvel, PLAN-IMAGE I, 2017


Chinese artist Silin Liu (born in 1990) aims to provide a “response to photography”. Her work has been awarded the JIMEI X ARLES DISCOVERY AWARD and is also on display at the Atelier Mécanique under the exhibition title “I’m Everywhere”. Liu looks to photography to “overcome temporal and geographical constraints,” photoshopping herself into images with figures such as Picasso, Churchill, Simone de Beauvoir and Princess Diana.


Simone de Beauvoir & Celine Liu 01, série Celine Liu, 2013


On the other end of the spectrum, photojournalist Samuel Gratacap is presenting “Fifty Fifty” follows the path of migrants, documenting transitory locations and dramatic living conditions. Produced in collaboration with the Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire the exhibition traces a path from Marseille to Lampedusa, to Zarzis in southern Tunisia, to the Choucha camp on the Libyan border. Over a period of months during which he orbited these camps Gratacap gave photography lessons to the migrants that he met and further documented his trip with writings that are exhibited alongside his photos.


Zone d'attente des travailleurs journaliers, Gargaresh, 2014 © Samuel Gratacap


Iran ‘38

This year’s festival is thematically focused on the year 1938 in Iran with 66 photographers exhibited within this framework. The project is buoyed by two central figures within Iranian photography, the galerist Anahita Ghabaian, founder of the Silk Road Gallery in Tehran, and the photographer Newsha Tavakolian from Magnum photos. Among the exhibited artists the work of Babak Kazemi (born in 1983) particularly stands out. While the fine line between documentary and artistic medium is highlighted, for Kazemi there is no difference between the two; he denounces societal power structures with his images of couples wrapped up in traditional persian rugs. Other highlights from the exhibition include work by Gohar Dashti, Newsha Tavakolian and Shadi Ghadirian.


 La Sortie de Shirin et Farhad, 2012 © Babak Kazemi

Shadi Ghadirian, Qajar, 1998 © the artist & Silk Road Gallery


Another important exhibition is “TERRITORIO ARLES IN BOGOTÁ” grouping together work by Hilda Caicedo (born 1988) Andrès Donadio (1986), Leslie Moquin (1986), Laura Quiñonez Paredes (1985), and Émilie Saubestre (1986). The show is the result of a residency programme run by the Alliance Francaise in Bogota and explores a vast, sometimes confusing, yet diverse territory, looking towards a new chapter in its history.


Andres Donadio, Imágenes de un Símbolo Patrio (Rojo), 2016


Last, but not least, the superb series Brave New Turkey by Norman Behrendt looks at the “process of re-islamisation” taking place in Turkey under Erdogan. The German photographer, born in 1981, documents the phenomenon — which has gathered considerable momentum since the failed coup d’état in 2016 — with images of the numerous mosques which have been erected in recent years, notably in Ankara.


Norman Behrendt Brave New Turkey



Text: Henri Robert

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