Five months till the next Rencontres d'Arles. This event is one of my great moments of the year. 2008 was curated by Christian Lacroix. He did a great job, and managed to get some inspiring, amazing, worth to visit expositions.
My wife and I started our visit to Avedon's 'Mr and Mrs Comfort'. These picture's (Avedon made this series of pictures to protest the fashion industry in 1995, published in The Newyorker) are more than 20 year old and still stand. The expression in the skeleton and the interaction with the model Nadja Auermann.
We stayed as long as we could in the Cloitre Saint-Throphine and saw the prints 3 times. I hope (and work for it) that one day we can realise such a production and, who knows, show it in Arles (one may be ambitious ;-).
On our way to the press center we stopped for a guy getting out of a car. This guy was nicely dressed and greated a couple. When we passed by I thought, this has to be a photographer. But then, we are in Arles and there must be more than 10.000 photographers there.
The next day we attended the press conference on fashion photography. The nicely dressed Photographer was Paolo Roversi I learned. He had a nice expo in Eglise Saint-Anne.
Friday evening we attended Mano a Mano. A debate between two icons of photographery (Peter Lindbergh and Paolo Roversi) accompanied by a projection of 2 decades of photography. Amazing! The morning after Mano a Mano, our second press conference. It was more serious than the evening debate. It was also more emotional and showed the persons behind the camera, the way they work and interact with models. After the press conference my wife had a chat with Peter Linbergh. These short interactions are thing one talks about for hours. The many words said, the way they are said, the impact they have on your way of seeing and working.
1km out of the city center you have 'parc des ateliers'. Some 20 tot 30 different expositions are shown there. The mega and splendid work of Tim Walker, and the discovery of Grégoire Alexandre (some one we will be seeing a lot of in the future), were highlights of the day. I also need to mention Grégoire Korganow. He had two expositions. One on fashion behind the scenes (which I liked most) and one on the people left behing when a partner is in prison. I found the photographs not so special, but. But Grégoire also told us the story behind. It was very, very very emotional. Sometimes he couldn't find his words and tears came on almost all faces. This is also what photography is all about. The story, the emotion. Listen to James Nachtway on TED if you want to be moved.
Also in 'parc des ateliers' was Pierre Gonnord. He showed large portraits that talked without saying anything.
Back in the city center we also found the self portrait of Lea Crespi.
What makes Arles so special? Well, everything is Photography during that week at the beginning of July. It is photography in streets, restaurants, bars, public places and historic sites, everrywhere. In one of those restaurants we saw Torros. A series of pictures taken by Michael Crouser on bull fighting.
Arles is also a meeting place of all sorts of people. We talked with publishers, looked at portfolios, bumped into a Japanees and started talking Lensbabies in the middle of the street and exhanging ideas.
I'm anxious to know what 2009 will bring. 5 month and Arles here we come.