Friday 11 July
Thursday was a long day, Friday will be a short one.
After a morning of resting and working on the computer, we are ready to brave the Parc des Ateliers’ experience. 30 exhibitions
spread out over thousands of square meters, with our favorite two friends in tow, the steamy Mr. heat and Mr. Crutches. (Stephane is still hobbling around with a sore ankle).
We start slowly with famous fashion photographer, Tim Walker. The scene-ography, made up of curves and pastel colors, makes one feel as though they have fallen into a candy box. His surrealistic staged images are undeniably attractive. These savant constructions are super efficient and even if i don’t feel that close to his aesthetic, i have to admit that i am seduced by the fairy tale world he creates. A demented Alice in Wonderland, filled with beautiful lollipop girls. Sometimes you would even want to get rid of the model, as his stunning decor is self-sufficient and his imagination limitless. If Tim Walker didn’t fall into fashion, i am convinced he would be a successful fine art photographer.
I had a major crush on the next exhibition, Jean-Christian Bourcart. From the age of 17, Bourcart began his career as a wedding photographer. A few decades later he is recycling some of the thousands of commercial shots he made then into a compelling artistic project. By mixing images from different weddings, he has created his own photo album giving a pretty accurate description of middle class Parisian suburbia. With hysterical montages, double exposure or vaseline blurs he manages to make me smile at almost every frame. A really moving conceptual project.
Samuel Fosso is definitely an interesting character. Born in Cameroon in 1962, he fell into photography with self-portraits from an early age. As a teenager, he photographed himself in a local studio setting wearing an Ultra Bright ( do you have this toothpaste outside France?) smile and seventies clothes. It’s a pictures that automatically reminds me of Malik Sibidé’s work. Later on, Fosso borrows the identities of: a pirate; a swimmer; a sailor and a whole spectrum of African clichés. I particularly admire his brattiness in the series called African spirits. He is gently mocking African culture – and himself along the way – with a sophisticated sense of humor. The show title, “You will be handsome, stylish, sensitive and easy to recognize” says it all…
Great, now I’m in a good mood. Two discoveries in one day. I could go home and call it a day and be happy. It’s time to step back and indulge myself in some discussions with colleagues.
Everyone is carrying around with them a hangover thanks to last night’s extravagant party of the Hoffmann family (every year the craziest night of all). Stephane and I couldn’t carry our heavy bodies there so i apologize, dear readers, for not being able to offer you pictures of the event. Coming on his bike all the way from Amsterdam ( 1600 km in 14 days), super hero Bas Vroege from Paradox (www.paradox.nl), one-of-a-kind curator/ art director/ editor/ exhibition maker presented me the catalogue of his new exhibition, So Blue, So Blue by photographer Ad van Denderen at The Nederlands Fotomuseum www.nederlandsfotomuseum.nl .
Check it out, it’s fab.
Time to move on…
La Grande Halle, first step of the major renovation of the Ateliers SNCF sponsored by Maja Hoffmann from Fondation Luma recently announced to be designed by Frank Gehry. A gorgeous rennovation for this now firmly established photograohy arts space.
In the Discoveries Prize nominations section, i realized i was wrong last night to dismiss them all when the nominees where presented at the amphitheater. Aside from Pieter Hugo (probably the winner since he seems to stand head and shoulders above the others), the pictures of Martina Sauter are now standing out. Her collages of two or three prints mounted together give a pleasing 3D aspect to her images. By combining archive pictures and personal images she creates compelling scenes of mystery with a cinematic feel.
Looking in at the pick from the Portfolio Reviews, a series of still lives by Harry Bowers caught my eyes. A photographer i will look for more of in the future….
A very quick glance at the nominees for the Book Awards. i can’t abandon Stephane since he’s unable to read books balancing on crutches like a flamingo on one leg. i go briskly through the selection and took some quick photographs of the ones i was familiar with from past year. Hopefully i will have time to go back and make some new discoveries. I will probably vote for Erik Kessels’ books which i always find so avant-garde, www.kesselskramer.nl
Ok now we are officially knackered again!
After a life-saving dip into the hotel pool, a quick and calm diner with our friends, gallery owner Philippe Chaume (www.galeriephilippechaume.com ) and photographer Floriane Delassee (www.florianedelassee.com ) its back on to the evening extravaganza grandly billed as La Nuit de L’année – The Night of the Year. Countless projections take place on street corners, in alleyways and on walls of buildings across the Latin Quarter of town. The neighbourhood’s narrow streets and numerous bodega-like bars and eateries provide a backdrop to a night of photography that continues until the street cleaners take over at first light.
In past years we have tended to skip this part of the opening week of Arles since it is very crowded and quite chaotic. This time however, we went along to visit Peeping Tom Galerie ’s favorite sponsor ARTE, the French and German cultural TV channel (www.artefrance.fr ). They were organising an outdoor projection set in a charming courtyard, of their documentary film on Peter Lindbergh. It proved to be the perfect set up before a good night’s sleep.
Bonne nuits les petits…
Caroline Niémant is a freelance Curator and Photo Editor. In 2006, she founded Peeping Tom, www.peepingtomgalerie.com, a not-for-profit organization to support and promote contemporary artists through exhibitions, informal auction sales, publications, collaborations with art institutions, festivals , etc. In the fall 2008, Peeping Tom will also be a magazine (published by Capricious Publishing : www.becapricious.com) Caroline Niémant is also the Photo Editor of fashion/art magazine Double ww.lemagazinedouble.com).
All photographs courtesy of Stéphane Blanc and Caroline Niémant.