OpenWalls Arles: Why Exhibit in Arles?

Our very first OpenWalls exhibition is now on show in Arles, featuring 50 works chosen to exhibit as part of a month-long group show at Galerie Huit Arles during Les Rencontres d’Arles 2019. The exhibition called for photographers to respond to the theme Home and Away, with images capturing a sense of escapism, belonging or identity. But why is exhibiting in Arles such an important rite of passage for photographers?

“The opening week of Les Rencontres d’Arles summer festival attracts the Who’s Who of the photography world,” explains Julia de Bierre, the owner of Galerie Huit Arles, and an OpenWalls judge. “They all descend on Arles to participate in this extraordinary celebratory event.” Photo editors, curators, gallery owners and photography dealers all head to Arles not only to see works by old masters, but also to poach undiscovered talent, looking to the coinciding Voies Off festival, as well as independent galleries and street artists, to commission new work. The festival also yields a huge amount of media attention, this year receiving coverage from the likes of The Guardian, The Telegraph, and ArtNet, alongside a host of international publications.

Galerie Huit Arles

Galerie Huit Arles’ central location is perfect for drawing the leading names in photography to peruse its illustrious walls. Set near the town’s crumbling Roman amphitheatre, one of Arles’ spotlight locations, the gallery attracts visitors from around the world

Last year, OpenWalls judge Daniel Miller was in Arles during the festival, exhibiting work represented by, and looking for new photographers whose images he could bring to the initiative. is a daily email, sent to over 8,000 subscribers worldwide, among them serious photography collectors looking to add to their collections. “We are always on the hunt for extraordinary works to present to our collectors,” says Daniel. And Arles is the perfect place to look. With photographers from all over the world pasting their work to the walls, and ad hoc venues being turned into makeshift galleries, there are miles of untapped potential.

© Bryony Fraser

Arles was our first, and most obvious, choice for the OpenWalls award. Launched in 1970 by French writer Michael Tournier, photographer Lucien Clergue and curator Jean-Maurice Rouquette, the festival is the world’s biggest and best-respected photography event. In 2016, it broke a record, with more than 100,000 visitors coming to Arles during the festival, and each year that number rises. Next year’s exhibition will also be held at Galerie Huit during the festival, and will feature works responding to the theme Growth Make sure your work is there.

This is your last chance to apply to OpenWalls Arles 2020! Submit your work responding to the theme ‘growth’, and you could be part of a group show at Galerie Huit Arles alongside Les Rencontres d’Arles 2020. Deadline: 25 July 2019 23:59 (UK time)