Flooded with photographers: Sunday, 4 pm.

The final day we met everyone at the train station heading back home, all looking exhausted and a bit sad, thinking the end is here. Taxi drivers finally feel the holidays are close. And soon, Japanese groups will take over from the mass of image lovers, so relaxed and endlessly kissing hello from left to right.

So, first of all I have to thank Mister Lacroix: This year I didn’t see as many “multi-pocket-jacketed” reporters  –  as if they were covering a conflict in the desert or ready to hunt lions at the next street corner. But I did hear things like: ” Hi SWEEEEEETY, (kiss, kiss)! Isn’t it amazing, usually Arles is so not trendy. This year EVERYONE is here!” So, thank you again. It’s true, we encountered a new kind of people in the audience, with different opinions, sometimes even allowing themselves to be critical…

This year, the festival was less directly anchored in the reality, artists fantasising about life, making it more dreamy. And finally, very linked to the world of the gypsies we saw at the Archevêché, living tough lives but living each moment intensely. Something you can still feel in the behaviour of most of Arlesians. It’s also close to the courtesans (in the program this year) who decided to enjoy life whatever it costs. With Lacroix’s choices, useful turn conceptual, social concern gets funny and even the rudest aspects of reality are transformed into sacred moments, like in opera, when an excessive beauty posesses a terrible feeling that touches you deeply, more than an explicit image.

Well, despite the fact that because of me (and my handicap) we couldn’t go to all of the openings, parties or meet incredible local characters at Néné’s bar (usually our yearly routine), once again the atmosphere was great – smiling people, interesting conversations, lots of laughs. Les Rencontres (= encounters) still lives up to its name.

However, compared to the huge amount of exhibitions and events, we were blown away only by a few things, still waiting for more audacious choices. Arles is, during this week, a hot spot where creative links are made, friendships reinforced and you leave, whether you like it or not, with the will to be more radical, go further, make stronger decisions, assert who you are.

Stéphane Blanc