sometimes, you wonder how something has passed you by.....i think that i expressed this same sentiment not that long ago (already starting to repeat myself?)......anyway, you wonder how you may have lived for X number of years without discovering something wonderful (for example lemon sorbet with mint choc-chip icecream.....startlingly delicious).....i mean it's not surprising if that something is very unusual, remote, brand new....but if it's an annual international event, like the Arles Photography Exhibition, on a subject that you studied, photography, then it's surprising that this event has slipped through the cracks of your consciousness. so, it's safe to say that i had never heard of this photography festival.
in researching the trip to Provence, i stumbled across a blog that mentioned the Arles Photography Festival.....so i was already considering it, when our lovely guesthouse hosts passionately recommended that we take a look. fortunately, we listened.......
the sweet town of Arles, between Avignon and St Remy de Provence, is a lovely place for a town festival. the exhibitions are held in stunning venues throughout the town.....i felt like i was on a photography treasure hunt........the venues vary between formidable town buildings, to small raw-stone churches, to modern steel and stone spaces. i was generally as interested in the venue as i was the content inside. you can purchse a venue map (in French/English) and there are clear signs dotted around the streets directing you from one show to the next. the town is smaller than it looks on the map and distances between venues are easy to negotiate on foot...even in the rain....even with a wandering toddler.....and it's not just the exhibitions that are entracing.....the town comes to life and between venues you can find little 'festival-fringe' gems.
nearly every show has an entrance fee between three and eight euros but you can also purchase various day/summer passes that give you access to all the exhibitions.
what amazed me was the high standard. we didn't manage to see every show due to toddler-short-attention-span time constraints....but we would consider coming back to the region at the same time next year just to explore the festival in more detail. we did manage to see these shows:
The New York Times Magazine: 30 Years......:set in the impressive Eglise Sainte-Anne building located on the main square.....it already felt like one of the festival's highlights and it certainly didn't disappoint. showcasing the reportage work of eleven photographers and describing the story behind each body of work, it showed the breadth of subjects covered by the Times. what i especially enjoyed were the enlarged contact sheets and narrative background about the subject matter.
Gabriel Figueroa......we stuck our heads into this show.....beautiful venue and amazing video installation....wish we had longer.
part II of what we saw, tomorrow......