Photobooks have been booming for the last ten years or so but one prize has been there for the last 49 years – Les Prix du Livre at Arles, which was set up at the same time as the Rencontres d’Arles festival. With its long history and prestigious jury, which is this year overseen by FOAM director Marloes Krijnen, the Prix du Livre are some of the best-respected in photography.
Three Prix are up for grabs in three categories this year – the Historical Book Award, the Author Book Award, and the Photo-text Book Award, each of which come with a €6000 prize to be shared between the photographers and their publishers. The books are on show at Arles until 23 September, and the winners will be announced in the opening week.
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.
Since its inception in 1970, Les Rencontres d’Arles has been a major influence in disseminating the best of world photography, becoming a springboard for photographic and contemporary creative talents. Taking place in Arles, South of France, Les Rencontres d’Arles is set among the town’s crumbling Roman treasures, shady squares and bountiful pockets of Camarguais culture. Immortalised in hundreds of Van Gogh’s works, Arles has always inspired artistic sentiment.The festival plays on this, hosting exhibitions across its much-loved, instantly recognisable heritage sites, with 12th-century chapels and 19th-century industrial buildings transforming into bustling photographic stages. Now in its 49th year, Les Rencontres d’Arles promises a breathtaking, celestial photographic journey that looks to the past while facing the future. Acknowledging photography’s unique position to reveal hard truths, Sam Stourdzé, director of the festival, writes of how “photography is often the best-placed medium for registering all the shocks that remind us the world is changing, sometimes right before our eyes.” The series of exhibitions relate to formative events that have taken place throughout the last century, seeking to parallel …
Situated within a late 17th century mansion, in the historical centre of the UNESCO world heritage site of Arles, lies Galerie Huit Arles, which has been at the heart of the town’s photography scene since its inception in 2007. This is no mean feat. The small Provencal town is home to Les Rencontres d’Arles, the world’s first and foremost photography festival. The doors of the gallery open onto a neo-classical salon, its painted and gilded panels displaying a changing selection of modern photographs, before moving across a series of artfully decorated rooms, stylistically spanning several centuries. Julia de Bierre, Galerie Huit Arles’ owner, founder and curator, has always ensured she exhibits an array of high-profile works on the gallery walls. Soon after opening, she presented the V&A Museum’s Theatre Department exhibition of photographer Simon Annand’s ‘The Half’. She has shown a number of photographic installations, including that of Matthias Olmeta in the below-stair vaults, and series such as Clementine Schneidermann’s ‘I called her Lisa Marie’, and Vee Speers’ 2017 ‘Dystopia’ show. The gallery’s artist-in-residence programme …
“Hosting OpenWalls is an exciting opportunity to create an outstanding curated exhibition in an unusual setting,” says Julia de Bierre, who is opening up the walls of her internationally renowned gallery, Galerie Huit Arles, to exhibit 50 shortlisted images for a month in July 2019. Launching to coincide with the 50th edition of Les Rencontres d’Arles, the world’s first and foremost photographic festival, OpenWalls is an awards initiative that gives emerging and established photographers the chance to exhibit in reputable locations around the world. For our first exhibition we are inviting work responding to the theme ‘Home & Away’, with the aim being to capture a sense of belonging, escapism, or identity. “I hope that the response to the theme will reflect all the qualities, and possibly contradictions, of British Journal of Photography’s readership,” says Julia. Which are? “Talented, informed, curious, conventional, cutting-edge, international or home-grown, and numerous!” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Galerie Huit Arles is located in the centre of Arles. Once used as a remarkable 17th century mansion, its classical …
In classical music, ‘impromptu’ refers to a short improvised piece, performed spontaneously with little or no preparation. Géraldine Lay’s new book, Impromptus, is a visual take on the term, aiming “not to tell a story about the place or the country, but to be out of time”.
Lay first encountered photography during her course in History of Art at the University of Lyon; studying the history of the medium, she was bitten by the photography bug, and went on to study at the National Photography School. She graduated in 1997, and is now based in Arles.
“Initially, my practice was part of my daily life, I had no preconceived ideas or strict subject,” says Lay. “I got into the habit of always having a camera with me, to take advantage of all the little moments of life.”
“I don’t have a journalistic bone in my body,” says Chris Dorley-Brown. “I’ve never been to Kosovo. Loads of people do that really well, but I don’t have the urge or the instinct, and that’s partly why I don’t really think of myself as a professional. I do the odd advertising job to earn money, and I think I do it okay, but the phone isn’t ringing off the hook with jobs because I don’t put the energy into promoting myself, since I’m wandering around here all the time. I keep my overheads low and can just about get away with it.” It’s a modest way to sum up an extraordinary body of work – more than 30 years of images, nearly all shot in London’s East End, and most photographed on the street. Some show luxury new developments, others rundown social housing. Some capture crowds of people, some empty streets. Many are one-offs, others – such as the images in The Corners – are manipulated using Photoshop to put various passersby together on one intersection
“It was a different time to now, it’s hard to remember just how scarce images were,” says John Myers. “Now you can get things on screen, in the early 1970s there was only a smattering of images available. When I give a talk, I often start by handing out a sheet of paper with a list of interests and influences in 1972-75. The names run across just half a side of A4. There aren’t that many on it, and it includes people I was interested in on the basis of one or two images.” But for Myers, this scarcity was part of the allure. After studying Fine Art with Richard Hamilton, he got into photography in 1972 “because I had never done it”; initially only familiar with Bill Brandt and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work, as photography rapidly gained recognition in Britain he soon had access to much more. “I was so excited to come across people, when photography suddenly started emerging from the shadows and books were being published,” he says. Myers started shooting with a Mamiya but, finding it “odd” to be looking down at his waist, moved to a 5×4 plate camera and soon found his stride.
Peter James was an instrumental figure in British photography, establishing an outstanding collection of photography at the Library of Birmingham over his 26-year career at the institution, and researching and curating exhibitions at the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Galley, the Library of Birmingham, and many more. He was also a modest and affable man, universally known as Pete and as at home over a curry as in a lecture hall delivering an academic paper. As Hilary Roberts, research curator at the Imperial War Museum, put it in a tribute on James’ Facebook page: “Pete has been a wonderful friend and exceptional colleague for more years than I can remember. His contribution to the world of photography cannot be overstated. It was a privilege to work with him and I will miss him more than I can say.”
Patricia Karallis and Giada De Agostinis, founding editor and editor of the online photography magazine, pick out their top five of the year – including Vincent Ferrané’s book Milky Way