Paulien Oltheten has won the Arles New Discovery Award with her series La Défense, le regard qui s’essaye. Rencontres d’Arles will now buy €15,000 of her work, and add it to the festival collection.
La Défense, le regard qui s’essaye encompasses a video essay, a photo series, and a collection of objects, and was shot mainly in the La Défense financial district in Paris. Recording people going about their everyday lives, the series creates imaginary links between them, adding a fictional element to a documentary project, and a layer of poetry to the otherwise unremarkable. Born in 1982 in Nijmegen, Netherlands, Oltheten studied at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, and is now based in Amsterdam and Paris.
Oltheten was selected from the ten photographers who made it into the Arles New Discovery Award exhibition this year – Sinzo Aanza, Monica Alcazar-Duarte, Christto & Andrew, Anne Golas, Chandan Gomes, Thomas Hauser, Anton Roland Laub, Ali Mobasser, Feng Li, Aurore Valade, and Wiktoria Wojciechowska.
It’s the biggest and best-respected photo festival in the world – it’s Arles and it’s back from 02 July-23 September, with a special opening week from 02-08 July. With the blessing of the French Minister of Culture François Nyssen – who declares that “Arles wouldn’t be Arles without photography” in her welcome to the festival – the 49th year of the festival is lead by director Sam Stourdzé, who took over its organisation in October 2014. As you might expect, the momentous events of May 1968 are commemorated at Arles this year, with a group of exhibitions titled Run Comrade, The Old World is Behind You. Considering events such as the student demonstrations and strikes in France, and the assassination of Robert F Kennedy that year, this section includes shows such as 1968, What a Story! which uses previously unseen images from police archives, Paris Match and Gamma-Rapho-Keystone. Elsewhere Arles looks to the future with a group of shows titled Augmented Humanity which includes work by Cristina de Middel & Bruno Morais, Matthieu Gafsou and Jonas Bendiksen; and in the Emergences section, which includes the ten photographers included in the New Discovery Award this year.
photography has the power to unite and create empathy, something that we, as photographers, should see as our obligation to the world,” says Ali Mobasser, who was one of the winners of BJP’s Portrait of Britain project last year. “Exhibiting using major advertising space was a brilliant idea,” he said of the initiative, “replacing its capitalist function with a humanist cause is genius. It’s a bit like secretly replacing someone’s cigarettes with carrot sticks, or opening up the Daily Mail to find the poetry of Rumi.”