Les Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival, Southern France
Arriving in Arles in July is like entering a music festival campsite. There are tents, stalls and exhibitions literally everywhere. I attended the first 5 paid exhibitions of about 25 or 30 exhibitions spread across the city from the 2012 festival. This is an annual tradition in the art-centric city of Arles. There were a vast array of styles at this showcase with artists displaying their work from all over Europe and the rest of the World.
I’m not going to lie, there was a lot of pretentious and unnecessary work and artists at this event, but I guess this is the way with these things. However, there was an undeniable amount of work which I could stare at all day, which essentially I did. The massive range of not only cameras, lenses and subject matter but display techniques and mediums was amazing. Every new room at the old railway warehouses at the Parc des Ateliers brought a new and different take on photography at its core, a market which can be saturated with Instagram and Sony Compact images.
The first room I walked into housed a five screen simultaneous looped video of a trip on a ferry with five men. This was a strange thing to walk in on as I shuffled in behind a group of French tourists. The entire reel was a mundane affair but I couldn’t look away for fear of missing something. This really set the tone for the rest my visit. I had to keep an open mind on things that I might not necessarily like at first glance. I went through the various rooms and made sure I took in everything I could. There were a number of really good exhibitions that really stood out politically and in contrast there were a number that were interesting purely for photographic flair. I would recommend going to anyone passing through this neck of the woods.
Here are a few of my favourite bits and pieces that I snapped before getting told off by an angry Frenchwoman curator. Not allowed to take photos at a photography festival, theres something deeply wrong there.