Dispatches from Arles: AMC’s photobook suitcases are a highlight

At Les Rencontres d’Arles you never know what you might see next.

One unexpected highlight of the opening (Professional) week of the 45th edition is the Archive of Modern Conflict’s pop-up suitcases, full of books published by AMC.

‘The AMC boys’ – Kalev Erickson and Tony Cairns – who work with the Archive in London, have been wandering around Arles with two large suitcases of books, setting up shop anywhere that takes their fancy – in the squares, down side streets and even on a beach outside of town.

The idea, they explain, is to take a different approach to showcasing AMC Books. “There are more and more independent publishers, so we wanted to do something different,” says Erickson. “It’s great to be able to suddenly set up shop anywhere and then disappear. The suitcase idea is based on the guys who wear jackets and flash their wares. We want to go to lots of places and take images that show where we’ve been.”

Titles include Cairns’ LDN (work that featured at last year’s festival), the AMC2 journal, Stephen Gill’s Hackney Flowers, and Oliver and Chanarin’s Holy Bible – just a small selection of AMC’s rapidly burgeoning output.

“We see AMC as a resource to do something with,” says Cairns. “We like making books, and we make them because we want them to exist.”

Simon Baker, photography curator at Tate, who is at the festival this week, took a shine to the books, as did Cristina de Middel, who accompanied Erickson and Cairns on their travels.

More from the festival soon…