Les Recontres de la photographie, Arles 2016

Storytellers, 5. 7. – 25 .9. 2016


Portfolio Reviews

Photographers lead and guide us through the subjects that drive them. They document, search and investigate. Photographers are investigators. They know their subjects like the backs of their hands. When they go out on the field, they meet, interact and explore. Photographers are explorers. Looking for new territories, they bear witness to the world’s vastness, interrogate history and question the medium. They are neither historians nor sociologists, but artists who construct a visual cosmology out of still or moving images, texts or sounds. They take us along on their stories. Photographers are storytellers. Examples include Laia Abril, who, in the first chapter of her chronicle of misogyny, focuses on abortion; João Pina, who spent over 10 years investigating Operation Condor and the disappearance of

60,000 political prisoners in six South American dictatorships; and Yan Morvan’s imposing encyclopaedia of battlefields.


As always, the 47th Rencontres d’Arles is an observatory of artistic practices. Our festival plays an active role in revealing trends and talents. Artists need financial support not just to stage their exhibitions, but beforehand, to help them fund the production of their projects. That is why new creations have a key place in the programme. From awards to residencies, the Rencontres d’Arles now has a veritable arsenal of financial aid for production. This year, we have strengthened it by creating a residency. The first recipient is photographer Stéphanie Solinas.

The Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award, now entering its second year, identifies the most relevant dummy books when they are still in the planning stages and funds the winner’s publication. Yann Gross, its first recipient, is publishing „The Jungle Book“, a vast Amazonian epic. His project is continuing as an installation, „The Jungle Show“.

The Rencontres d’Arles has handed out the Discovery Award for over a decade. The idea is simple: five recognised figures from the art world nominate two artists each; parity has been the rule since 2015. We produce exhibitions for each of them and a jury of professionals votes for the winner, who receives

€5 000 to continue his or her work.

Lastly, the Photo Folio Reviews gives awards to five very young artists with promising projects. The festival produces a show of works by the winner. This year, it is an exhibition of photographs by Piero Martinello.


Images are their words. Whether they produce or borrow them, it is not just the gesture that shapes the artists’ works, but the idea of activation. The artists appropriate anonymous images, take them out of the context in which they were produced, activate them in the field of art, share them with the public by offering a new interpretation and divert them from the purposes for which they were originally intended.

The contamination of the vernacular image is now widespread. An artist, Agnès Geoffray, and a photography historian, Julie Jones, teamed up to examine the practice. Their exhibition, „Where the Other Rests“, reveals the itineraries of images—shifts in nature, value and uses. The show pays tribute to a generation of artists who collect and awaken forgotten images borrowed from others.

The study of popular culture also offers a huge iconographic repertory—often, anonymous images whose initial purpose was primarily utilitarian: illustrating a magazine, publicising a film or documenting daily life. Today, collectors, artists, historians and institutions are increasingly interested in these low-quality images, this other photography. Examples include director Sébastien Lifshitz and the astonishing pictures of transvestites he collected over a 30-year period (the „Sincerely Queer“ exhibition); Thomas Mailaender and Marc Bruckert’s contrasting perspectives on the stupid and nasty archives of „Hara Kiri“; and the history of the Camarguais Western, from Joë Hamman holding up the train between Arles and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1910) to a galloping, singing Johnny Hallyday in „Pour Moi la Vie Va Commencer“ („D’où Viens-tu Johnny?“, 1963). We tell the story with the Musée de la Camargue.


The festival looks kindly upon youth and new practices but is also receptive to the world and sets its sights on other places. This year, talented photographers and curators showcase an unexpected, surprising, funny, pop Africa at the 47th Rencontres. Aida Muluneh, the artistic director of Addis Foto Fest—the Addis Ababa photo festival—joins the Discovery Award nominating team and defends the work of Sarah Waiswa and Nader Adem. Through works by approximately 10 artists, Azu Nwagbogu, director of the LagosPhoto festival, looks into the Nollywood film studios’ influence on African photography. In Maud Sulter’s photomontages, however, African and European cutures collide. Lastly, Richard Minier, Thomas Mondo and Madé Taounza tell us the amazing story of Las Maravillas. The Malian music group becomes a wonderful pretext to revisit the swinging ambiance of 1960s Bamako immortalised by the great Malick Sidibé.


Despite the deaths of Lucien Clergue and Michel Tournier, who both founded the Rencontres d’Arles together with Jean-Maurice Rouquette, our festival is alive and well after 47 years. It is thriving because the same determination, the same passion and the same desire to stand up for photography and artists together drives the whole Rencontres d’Arles team.

Arles and the surrounding area will be photography’s standard-bearers again this summer.

(Sam Stourdzé, Director of the Recontres d’Arles)

Exhibition: Fragments of a Life

Artists/Participants: Daniel Spoerri (CH/AU), Samy Briss (RO/FR), Olga Stefan (RO/USA/CH)/Miklos Klaus Rozsa (HU/CH)/Gabi Basalici (RO), Elianna Renner (CH/G), Myriam Lefkowitz (FR/USA), David Schwartz/ Katia Pascariu/ Ioana Florea/ Alice Marinescu (RO), Romulus Balazs (RO/FR), Simcha Jacobovici (IL/CA)

Curated by Olga Stefan/Itinerant Projects

June 27 – August 30, 2016, Iasi, Romania / Tranzit

Through oral histories and biographical material, the multi-site and multi-media contemporary art exhibition explores the impact on the destinies of survivors of the events of June 27-June 30, 1941 in Iasi, when about 13,000 Jews were killed by the Romanian authorities at the behest of Marshal Ion Antonescu, Romania’s fascist leader, in the largest pogrom in Europe. 

Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of this dark moment in Romanian history, one that has been largely ignored by Romanian society and manipulated politically, the project in Iasi considers the impact of war, violence and persecution on the destinies of victims and their descendants, the past generation’s interrupted biographies that parallel those of today, albeit in other geographical areas.

The exhibition will feature two parts: a historical one including a presentation of written material about the pogrom created by émigré writers who trace their roots to Iasi and who analyse this event through an autobiographical prism, and a contemporary art section that also features film screenings, discussions, and a theater play.

Like the historical section, the contemporary art projects produced especially for the exhibition are by artists whose fate brought them to Switzerland, Germany, Israel, and France yet they trace their roots to Iasi or other parts of Romania, from where their family were forced to flee war or repressive politics. The projects are stories of migrations, displacement, assimilation, memory and forgetting, while reflecting on the notions of home, identity and belonging. 

The exhibition and events take place in art and cultural spaces that during the pogrom were located very close to, or were actually themselves former sites of street massacres, inherently carrying this forgotten history that although invisible today, needs to be reclaimed, and thus inevitably questioning how a city remembers its past.