It’s the biggest, most prestigious photography festival in the world and it’s back – Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles opens on 03 July and closes on 24 September.
It’s the 48th edition of the festival, which has seen seismic changes in the last few years – the departure of its long-standing director Francois Hebel after the 2014 edition, and the arrival of his replacement, Sam Stourdze, the backing of the influential LUMA Foundation, and the Cosmos-Arles book fair.
This history and reputation mean Arles is able to pull in the big names, which this year means including solo shows by Joel Meyerowitz, Michael Wolf, Gideon Mendel, Masahisa Fukase, Alex Majoli and Roger Ballen; plus an exhibition on Surrealism organised by Le Centre Pompidou and including works by Hans Bellmer, Erwin Wurm and Rene Magritte.
Arles also uses its might to showcase lesser-known names and regions, however, and one of the themes running through the 2017 edition is Latina!, a celebration of work from South America in four separate shows. Urban Impulses is a group show looking at work from the region from 1960-2016, including image-makers such as the Colombian Vicki Ospina; Mexicans Armando Cristeto and Carlos Somonte; Ecuadorian Paco Salazar and Chilean Paz Errazuriz.
Errazuriz also has an extensive solo show, focusing on his portraits from the 1970s to the present day; another group show, La Vuelta [“the turn” or “the revolution”], is a look at contemporary art and photography from Colombia. La Vache et L’orchidee [“the cow and the orchid”], meanwhile looks at vernacular photography from Colombia, and is curated by Timothy Prus from the influential Archive of Modern Conflict.
Another theme in the festival is titled I Am Writing To You From A Far-Off Country and includes two shows – Iran, Annee 38, a group show including work made since 1979, and a show titled Blank Paper, which includes cutting-edge photographers such as Julián Barón, Ricardo Cases, Federico Clavarino, David Hornillos, Óscar Monzón and Alejandro Marote, who are associated with the Blank Paper photography school in Madrid.
The Discoveries Prize is back with 12 emerging names to look out for – including two duos this year: Carlos Ayesta & Guillaume Bression, who present Retracing Our Steps, Fukushima Exclusion Zone 2011-2016; and Brodbeck & De Barbuat, who present a video project also shot in Japan, In Search of Eternity II.
British photographer Guy Martin has earned a place in the Discoveries with his project on Turkish realities and fantasies, The Parallel State, featured on bjp-online earlier this year; Alnis Stakle, also recently featured on bjp-online, has won a spot with a new project – Shelter, a look at Latvia’s anxious position under Soviet rule.
Ester Vonplon, who’s currently showing work at the Format Festival, has also won a spot in the Discoveries section with work shot in the Arctic that looks at the changes wrought by global warming. Mari Bastashevski is showing a project called State Business, meanwhile, which shows government corruption, and which BJP first presented in its January 2014 Ones to Watch issue.
The opening week this year runs from 03 – 08 July, and this is the time to go to catch Cosmos Arles Books, evening projections and events, talks and book-signings, and the portfolio review. Featuring over 100 international photography insiders, the portfolio review costs from €195 for five reviews, but offers one selected participant the chance to win Le laureat du Photo Folio Review – which comes with a solo show at the next Arles festival. The 2016 laureat was David Fathi, who is back this year with a series called The Last Road of the Immortal Woman. Registrations for this year’s review open on 17 May.