Arles Photo Encounters: our favorites

Arles Photo Encounters: our favorites

By Karelle Fitoussi and Anaël Pigeat


The Rencontres de la photographie return with a serious program, not always obvious. Our favorites.

ART IN MOTION WITH BABETTE MANGOLTE With her dance and performance photographs, filmmaker Babette Mangolte transports us to the New York of the 1970s. Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Bob Wilson, Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, but also Georges Perec who was among her friends… They are all there, and one has the impression of being with them, and with her – the labels offer comments by the artist on his own images. By sometimes photographing the dancers at ground level, Babette Mangolte revolutionizes the perception we have of these shows. It’s a dizzying archive, and it’s so much more than that. PA
Sainte-Anne Church, until September 25.

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BETTINA GROSSMAN THE REDISCOVERY Do you know Bettina Grossman, mythical resident of the Chelsea Hotel in New York, like in their time Janis Joplin or Bob Dylan? She died there last year after fifty years spent in this place which was at the heart of the art scene of the 1970s. The exhibition dedicated to her reveals the work of a conceptual artist that the general public had largely forgotten, until another artist, Yto Barrada, undertook to publicize her work. Are presented games of images and words, sticky tape collages, photocopies and photographs, wood sculptures and marvelous sketchbooks… A revelation. PA

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Photo from the “New York” series, 1976-1986.


Salle Henri-Comte, until August 28.

FREE AS ​​ROMAN URHAUSEN Light on an unknown work. Disappeared in 2021 at the age of 90, the Luxembourger Romain Urhausen took his first steps in humanist photography, showed the last images of the Halles de Paris before their destruction – he even wrote a book about it with Jacques Prévert, in 1963. Then he took the turn of the most daring formal experiments, while keeping a joyful tone of humor. His images are associated with those of other artists such as Cartier-Bresson, Clergue or Doisneau. Some speak of a jack-of-all-trades. It is above all his freedom that is striking. And we continue to wonder how his work passed for a time under the radar of critics. PA

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Untitled, 1950s-1960s.

Untitled, 1950s-1960s.


Espace Van Gogh, until September 25.

THE GESTURES OF SUSAN MEISELAS Hands that classify photographs, hands that prune olive trees, hands that roll dough, hands that arrange buttons on a market stall, hands that knit…these are hands that have lived, hands that translate intimate and collective stories. With composer Marta Gentilucci, Susan Meiselas, known for her documentary images taken in conflict zones and one of the figures of the Magnum agency since 1976, invites you on a moving stroll through the Saint-Blaise church over a mosaic of video screens, in the memory of gestures. PA

Excerpt from the video “Mapping the body”.

Excerpt from the video “Mapping the body”.


Saint-Blaise Church, until September 25.

MIKA SPERLING: HEMLOCK INCEST Cropped family photos, cut out in the center, turned over, hollowed out of a protagonist, always the same, left out of frame and out of harm’s way… “Cuttings of my grandfather that I don’t want to see directs us to a first cartel followed, further on, by shots that we will only see missing a silhouette… Presented as part of the Louis Roederer Discovery Prize which crowned the American Rahim Fortune and his work documentary on mourning, the montages and cut-outs of the Russian-German Mika Sperling show, rather than images, the gaping hole caused by incest. The executioner remains offscreen, but the abyss takes up all the space until he suffocates. Demonstration by absence. Accusation by omission “like returned violence. As a way of gaining a power of action over the past”. Chills. And well-deserved Audience Award. KF

“In my room”, 2000.


Church of the Frères-Prêcheurs, until August 28.

MIDDLE FINGER They are called Orlan, Cindy Sherman or Birgit Jürgenssen, are famous, unknown or already forgotten… At the Mécanique générale, this “Feminist avant-garde”, which brings together more than 200 creations by 71 artists taken from the Verbund collection, in Vienna , plays the card of correspondences between the works – even of redundancy to better appreciate their universal and pioneering character. Faces muzzled with needles and thread, skin tied up or crucified on an ironing board, woman grafted onto her stove or her wedding dress, prisoners of the frame from which they cannot escape, women puppets good at manipulate, sexes offered… Often armed with the tools to which they have been confined or using their own bodies to perform their fights, these artists who carry all the anger and current demands denounce sexism, sexual violence, inequalities, and question the patriarchal ideal. Better to have a strong heart. A collective chapter as provocative, radical, modern and necessary as it is perfectly cleansing. No, no, nothing has changed… KF

Untitled, by Ana Mendieta, 1972.

Untitled, by Ana Mendieta, 1972.

© Ana Mendieta

“A feminist avant-garde. Photographs and performances from the 1970s from the Verbund collection”, at the Mécanique générale, Parc des Ateliers, until September 25.

THE BEAUTIFUL GREENS The planet is on fire, ravaged by hyperconsumption and capitalism, the artists hammer us. But two young French women manage to circumvent the commonplaces of moralizing reporting to offer another perspective on the climate emergency. Léa Habourdin hid behind shutters her “anthotypes”, prints made from chlorophyll which has the particularity of turning when exposed to light. “You can choose to open these panels to see them and therefore make them disappear a little more – or preserve them by not looking at them,” she warns. In the nave of the Church of the Trinitarians, Noémie Gouda maintains that the Earth is a living organism with its own “geological temporal”, its permanent flow called “deep time”. His images, which are based on the art of trompe-l’oeil and optical tricks, question the possibility of renewal. KF

« Images-forests.  Expanding worlds”, by Léa Habourdin, 2019-2022.

« Images-forests. Expanding worlds”, by Léa Habourdin, 2019-2022.

© Léa Habourdin

Léa Habourdin, at La Croisière, until September 25. Noémie Goudal, at the Trinitarian Church, until August 28.

A HALF-TONE 2022 EDITION Christoph Wiesner, the new director of the Rencontres d’Arles, was keen to put young people back at the center and to restore female production to its rightful place. After two years of pandemic, the first edition entirely concocted by the successor of Sam Stourdzé is struggling to establish itself. No star or popular big show. Sharp, dogmatic programming, very focused on documentaries and the past (the 1970s) or scanning the horizon only to tell us that it is blocked (the destruction of the planet, racial and sexual discrimination, etc.). We come out of this 53rd season a little overwhelmed by the concepts and sadness. Nostalgic for a time when content and form went together with more brilliance and lightness. Fortunately, there are still some evidences and revelations with too few exceptions.

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