50 years ago, photographer Lucien Clergue, writer Michel Tournier and art historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette organised a small photography festival in the town hall of Arles – a city in the Provence region of France. There were three exhibitions – a group show tracing the history of photography, alongside work by Gjon Mili and Edward Weston.
This year, Les Rencontres d’Arles, the largest photography festival in the world, celebrates its 50th anniversary with 50 exhibitions. While some shows reflect on the festival’s rich history – a recreation of Edward Weston’s 1969 exhibition, for example – others embody its founding spirit, championing emerging talent and new work by internationally respected artists.
Below, BJP-online presents a selection of artists and exhibitions not to miss.
LA MOVIDA: A CHRONICLE OF TURMOIL
This group exhibition brings together four photographers from La Movida, a countercultural movement that took place mainly in Madrid, Spain. It began after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 and continued throughout Spain’s transition to democracy; the movement was defined by its fascination with modernity. Alberto García-Alix (1956), Ouka Leele (1957), Pablo Pérez-Mínguez (1946-2012), and Miguel Trillo (1953) are exhibiting their work in the 17th century Palais de l’Archevêché.
MOHAMED BOUROUISSA: FREE TRADE
Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouisa exhibits his project, Free Trade, in a supermarket, which provides an interesting context to the work. Free Trade questions the current state of unemployment, and the circulation of money and knowledge. Encompassing photography, video and painting, the show spans Bourouissa’s extensive fifteen-year archive.
HOME SWEET HOME
Home Sweet Home tells the love stories that have developed between Britons and their homes, from the 1970s to the present day. The show comprises work by an impressive list of image-makers including Ken Grant, Martin Parr, Clare Strand, Iain McKell and Gillian Wearing, and brings together artists spanning several generations, offering an insight into the contrasting social, cultural and political histories behind the British home.
EMERIC LHUISSET: WHEN THE CLOUDS SPEAK
Set within an ancient cathedral, Emeric Lhuiset’s When the Clouds Speak presents the photographer’s coverage of the century-old conflict in the Middle East. Describing his own work as “counter-journalism”, Lhuisset seeks to break the taboo of speed and urgency central to photojournalism, aiming to start a dialogue with the viewer through a considered and deliberate approach to news.
TOM WOOD: MOTHERS, SISTERS, DAUGHTERS
Tom Wood has been collecting images of mothers, sisters, and daughters since the early 1970s. In this exhibition, Wood presents his own work, shot on the streets of Liverpool, alongside postcards that he collected of mothers and daughters while he was still at school.
THE ANONYMOUS PROJECT: THE HOUSE
When filmmaker Lee Shulman bought his first box of random vintage slides, he fell in love. He discovered tiny windows into the unstaged lives of ordinary people, caught in lush Kodachrome colour. The Anonymous Project was set up to collect, curate, and preserve these important, and often lost, artifacts of our past. In Arles, The Anonymous Project exhibits a series of archival images responding to the theme home.
EVE ARNOLD, ABIGAIL HEYMAN & SUSAN MEISELAS: THE UNRETOUCHED WOMAN
In the mid-1970s, when second-wave feminism was gaining momentum in the United States, three photobooks offered a new perspective on the lives of women: Susan Meiselas’ Carnival Strippers, Eve Arnold’s Growing up Female and Abigail Heyman’s The Unretouched Woman. This exhibition unveils the process behind these publications, revealing drafts and contact sheets that present a unique insight into the work of three important American photographers.
LIBUŠE JARCOVJÁKOVÁ: EVOKATIV
In her first exhibition at Les Rencontres d’Arles, Libuše Jarcovjáková presents photographs taken in communist Czechoslovakia between 1970 and 1989. Through her raw yet poetic style, Jarcovjáková captures life on the street, as well as love, sex, and depression, during Czechoslovakia’s dark period of political oppression.
POSTCARDS: NEWS FROM A DREAM WORLD
Exploring the visual history of postcards, the exhibition Postcards: News from a Dream World questions what these pictures show and tell about our world. What do they say about the globalisation of images and the rise of mass tourism in the late-twentieth century, and what vision of the world did they paint for their recipients? Comprising images by photographers including Martin Parr, William Wegman, Jean Geiser and Susan Hiller, the exhibition presents the postcard as a symbol of our collective imagination.
Les Rencontres d’Arles takes place in Arles, France, from 01 July to 22 September 2019.