As theme for the 45th edition of Rencontres d’Arles (the last one under his direction), François Hébel has chosen "Parade". Many authors are returning for their “last” appearance on the festival, obviously marking the end of a long journey: Lucien Clergue, Raymond Depardon, Martin Parr, Christian Lacroix.
As always, even when it comes to exhibitions of well-established veterans it’s diversity that defines the code of the festival. Lucien Clergue (one of its founders) is going to celebrate his 80th birthday with the big retrospective "Les hommes et les femmes", including videos, interviews and unreleased material. Raymond Depardon will participate with his work on the war memorials built in France after the First World War - which was assigned for the hundredth anniversary of WW1. Martin Parr will present a selection of lost Chinese books on photography, a proper excursus on an extremely little-known editorial reality. Designer Christian Lacroix, supporter of the festival and curating guest in 2008, pays tribute to the town women’s beauty with "L'Arlesienne", which is being staged in the new location at the Hôtel Jules César’s chapel for the occasion.
A new section, Originals, introduces artists and curators debuting at the festival - this year paying great attention to portraits: David Bailey with "Stardust" (already exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery); Patrick Swirc and actor Vincent Pérez, presenting a string of portraits; Denis Rouvre with "Identités, territoires de l'intime", common people being lit up by a neo-Renaissance light.
Increasingly wider space is given to photography that resort to both digital and non-digital editing techniques to turn it into an expanded object - quite difficult to classify in many cases: Anouck Dourand’s narration, an intense wickerwork built with family and archive photos, and press clippings; the collages by Vik Muniz; Daile Kaplan's bizzarre pop objects.
And wide room is given to collections, too: from the exemplary classifying path of Artur Walther’s collection, to the Trepat collection curated by Joan Fontcuberta, to the historical photos by Léon Gimpel and the Hunt and Hudelot collections.
With some 50 exhibitions scattered throughout town and variety and curating attention that are unmatched for such a large-scale festival, the Rencontres transform this Roman town in Provence in the photography world capital every year.
In addition to exhibitions the festival is hosting - as custom goes - showings, debates, workshops, portfolio readings, off sections and the historic prize for new talents.
So it is the conclusion of a cycle that’s lead the festival from being a point of reference for insiders to global stardom (100.000 visitors last year). And it paves the way, under a few regards, for a new beginning.
Rencontres d'Arles, from 7th July to 21st September.
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