No matter how hard you try, sometimes Arles can be just like Glastonbury (sans mud) – lots of things going on and you get sidetracked, and don’t get to see the one thing you wanted to. However I did manage to get round a diverse group of exhibits this year, one of my favourites actually being the Alice Neel painting show at the Fondation Van Gogh. Here is my round-up of what I saw of note this edition. The House of the Ballenesque, Roger Ballen This was very talked about in Arles – an old ramshackle house that Ballen has taken over, to express somewhat of what goes on in his mind and informs his photography. Like a giant walk-in sketchbook, it’s part fun-house and part mental asylum, with lots of creepy figures and dolls heads stuck on mismatching bodies. It’s worth seeing because it’s a bit different, though it doesn’t quite feel like the main event – it’s more of a fun sideshow to his practice, but interesting nonetheless. Try to go on a …
Born in 1908, Minor White lived at a time when being openly gay was risky. He remained in the closet for much of his life, fearful of losing his teaching positions at institutions such as the California School of Fine Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology – a factor which helped shape his aesthetic vision, argues an exhibition of his work currently on show in Madrid, “employing close-ups and cropping to express what couldn’t be shown”.
Val Williams is co-curating a show on seaside photography for Turner Contemporary – and is asking photographers to submit their work for consideration. The exhibition will launch in Margate in summer 2019 before going on tour around the UK, and is being curated by Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson – director of the photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) at the London College of Communication, and director of the South East Archive of Seaside Photography respectively. They want to produce a collection which explores “how the medium of photography has both shaped and exposed the multiple layers of the seaside resort”, they say.
In 1973 Ralph Gibson published his first photobook, The Somnambulist; he followed up with Déjà Vu in 1973, and Days at Sea in 1974. Together the books form a trilogy which has been credited with re-imagining the modern photobook; all three were published by Lustrum Press, an organisation formed by Gibson to retain creative control of his work. Now more than 150 images from the trilogy – aka The Black Trilogy – will be shown at the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier, South France.
“I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other,” says South African photographer Zanele Muholi. Born in 1972 in Umlazi, a township close to Durban, Muholi defines herself as a visual activist using photography to articulate contemporary identity politics. In her latest series, Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, she uses her body to confront the politics of race and representation, questioning the way the black body is shown and perceived.
“On s’engage, on va le faire” – that is, “We’re in, we’ll do it”. The New York-based, French-Venezuelan photographer Mathieu Asselin goes back and forth from Spanish to English to French as he recalls how Sam Stourdzé, the director of the Rencontres d’Arles, enthusiastically agreed to exhibit his five-year long, research-intensive project about the US chemical corporation Monsanto. It happened a week before last year’s festival, and Asselin was then showing the dummy of his photobook, Monsanto®. A Photographic Investigation. This year the project is being shown at the Magasin Électrique at Arles, and the book has been published in French by Actes Sud, and in English by the Dortmund-based Verlag Kettler. Asselin’s project is conceived as a cautionary tale putting the spotlight on the consequences of corporate impunity, both for people and the environment. Designed by fellow countryman Ricardo Báez, a designer, curator and photobook collector who has notably worked with the Venezuelan master Paolo Gasparini, Monsanto® submerges the reader into an exposé of the corporation’s practices, whether by showing contaminated sites and the health and …
Blank Paper: Histoires du présent immédiat [Stories of the Immediate Present], which features recent work by Julián Barón, Ricardo Cases, Federico Clavarino, David Hornillos, Alejandro Marote, Óscar Monzón, Bernardita Morello, Miren Pastor, Michele Tagliaferri, Fosi Vegue and Antonio M. Xoubanova, opened this week at the offbeat Ground Control space in Arles. Images from the six-member collective are intertwined with those from teachers and alumni from the eponymous school
Congenital achromatopsia is a hereditary condition in which the eye cannot detect colour – the cones in the retina do not function, leaving the vision to the rods alone, which only detect shades of grey. In most places the disease is rare, occuring in less than one in 30,000 people. But on the Micronesian island of Pingelap it’s much more common, present in more than 5% of the population. It’s an extraordinary phenomenon – and one that immediately gripped Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde when she heard about it back in 2015
Born in Denmark in 1976, Jacob Aue Sobol studied at the Fatamorgana Danish School of Art Photography from 1998-1999. In Autumn 1999, he went to live in the Tiniteqilaaq settlement in Greenland, and mainly stayed with his Greenlandic girlfriend Sabine and her family for the next three years. The resulting book, Sabine, was published in 2004, and nominated for the 2005 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. In 2005, Aue Sobol travelled with a film crew to Guatemala, to make a documentary about a young Mayan girl’s first journey to the ocean. The following year he returned alone and he met the indigenous Gomez-Brito family, and stayed with them for a month. His story on the family won the Daily Life Stories award in the 2006 World Press Photo. In 2006 he moved to Tokyo, and shot a series of images that won the 2008 Leica European Publishers Award. I, Tokyo was published by Actes Sud (France), Apeiron (Greece), Dewi Lewis Publishing (Great Britain), Edition Braus (Germany), Lunwerg Editores (Spain) and Peliti Associati (Italy). Sobol became a nominee at Magnum Photos in 2007, and a full member in 2012. Aue …
Dating back to 1996, Voies Off is the large and well-respected alternative to the official Rencontres d’Arles programme. Now backed by Leica, Voies Off is staging nearly 150 exhibitions from 03 July – 24 September, all of which are free to enter, plus a week of screenings, masterclasses, awards and portfolio reviews in the opening week, from 03 – 08 September, from its base in the Cour de l’Archevêché courtyard. The courtyard also hosts parties, held every night from midnight in the opening week.