Opening Week from the 3rd to 8th July
Exhibitions from the 3rd to 16th September
The festival of Arles, les Rencontres d'Arles, has become a point of reference for all photographers, exhibition organizers and for artistic publications from the entire world.
Its’ success is as much due to the choice of opening with the theme of contemporary creation as by its’ mixing this with the history of photography, offering the public numerous exhibitions focusing on this art form through-out all the summer.
For 38 years the first photographic festival to be called truly international, the « Rencontres d’Arles » utilizes more than 20 area of exceptional historical and architectural importance in the town.
This years Rencontres, starts like every month of July in the past with the meetings and encounters which are always more enriching than those last year.
Professional, amateurs and students find themselves like every year here to exchange their experiences and knowledge of photography, to admire the exhibtions, or to quite simply get know each other.
This year, after the huge success of 2006 under the direction of the French photographer Raymond Depardon (52000 visitors, with more than 20% foreign, an increase of over 50% from 2005), visitors have had the pleasure to discover historical exhibitions such as Trames d’Arménie (1900-1940) (Fabrics of Armenia(1900-1940), which shows this period of textile production in Armenia, a retrospective of the work of Alberto Garcia-Alix (focusing on his portraits using 35mm black and white film) to mark 10 years of « Photo España ».
The exhibition of Alberto Garcia-Alix which is in the Church of Sainte Anne, has drawn numerous professionals as well as many well-informed amateurs, due to the intense and powerful subjects on show.
His sensitivity for music and images were joined perfectly, during the evening of 5th July in the Théâtre Antique in the company of tango musician Daniel Melingo. This visual concert was created specifically for the Recontres d’Arles, and revealed the melancholy and harsh nature of the pictures of Alix in combination with the magic tones of traditional tango. The two men, longstanding friends, were able to share their feelings on life and death and also their love for photography and music. The audience present at this evening in the Théâtre Antique, will never forget this ultimate view of two artists towards their public.
The festival also proposed an opening to distant countries and their differing artistic approaches.
For the 60th anniversary of the independence of India, the organizers addressed for the first time a review on the state of contemporary photographic creation in the country.
Raghu Rai, one of the major protagonists of exhibitions in the country was the master of ceremonies. The Indian photographers from Magnum presented us with their portrait of the country, alongside pictures by Henri Cartier Bresson which developed the same themes of humanity in the show.
He gave us his definition of his approach: I consider my camera like a training tool. When we look through the viewfinder we have to have a high level of concentration. At this moment we enter the invisible, and discover the unknown. It is an education for you and the world around you.
Again, one of the great moments of the « Rencontres d’Arles de la photographie » was the presentation of several Chinese photographers who work in the avant-garde area of Dashanzi in Peking.
Amongst them the Gao brothers who showed their critically acclaimed works on their country and on globalization.
As the organizer of their exhibition Janette Danel-Helleu stated: In their highly accomplished works the Gao’s try to show the deep resilience of spirituality in the face of the violence of each day. To hug someone in your arms is a natural gesture, but to do this for 15 minutes is almost unheard of.
Tenderness, irony and humor are the key points developed by the Gao’s, in their joint effort against the harshness of life.
At the same time the organizers wanted to cover all the styles in the art of the image and this more than ever was achieved in the exhibition on the near mythical agency Magnum.
Even if Magnum is celebrating its’ 60th anniversary, the wish of the organizers was not just to join in the celebrations, but to really show that the myth was very much alive in the world today as well as in the history of photography.
They achieved this by developing a panorama showing the development of the organization, year after year, covering all the key moments, photographs, publications and quotations from the photographers themselves.
We met a number of them at a private viewing from this cooperative which today assembles more than 60 active photographers, such as Abbas, Bruno Barbey, Elliot Erwitt, Susan Meisselas, Martin Parr ou Paolo Pellegrin.
Ultimately even though this 38th « Rencontres » did not have any specially invited guests, there was not a reduction in the number of visitors during the first week of opening compared with last year.
More than 2000 professionals attended during the opening week, and 4100 tickets were sold in the first five days and the show continues.
Even if you think that the surprises of the Recontres d’Arles stop in the month of September, when the exhibitions shut, you would be wrong.
The surprises never stop in Arles like all of the history of photography.
Start to prepare yourself now for the 2008 festival. The new organizer has been chosen from a world quite different to that with which we have become accustomed, that of fashion. He is the dress designer Christian Lacroix who is a native of Arles.
Impassioned by art, he studied the history of art in Montpellier then at Sarbonne and the Louvre school in 60’s and 70’s.
Finally it was the world of fashion that became his place of inspiration between the colors of Spain, of Venice, the bull-fights, the gypsies and the clothing of the Camargue.
FineArtTv is very curious to discover the originality of vision on the arts of such a celebrity. A fantastic programme is in perspective...