Les rencontres d'Arles 2021
WORD FROM THE MINISTER Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin Minister of Culture
The Rencontres d’Arles is an indispensable event for photography in France and abroad. Although last year’s festival could not be held, to pay tribute to the artists, the festival and its partners joined forces to ensure that the prizes for 2020 be awarded (Women In Motion – Kering, the Louis Roederer Discovery Award, Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award...). I am also delighted that multiple exhibitions from 2020’s program have found a place at the festival in 2021.
In a few months, we all hope, this unique event on the art of photography will begin. This year’s festival features around twenty exhibitions
in Arles, and several other sites associated with the festival in the region, as part of Grand Arles Express, including Mucem, FRAC PACA, Collection Lambert, and Centre Photographique Marseille. In his first official year as festival director, Christoph Wiesner has chosen to emphasize emerging artists. The 2021 Louis Roederer Discovery Award will be showcased in particular, with Sonia Voss as curator and Amanda Antunes for scenography. The festival also reflects the social changes that photography is continually attesting to, featuring, notably, a section on the topics of gender and identity. With emerging scenes, large group exhibitions, powerful themes, established artists and artists from around the globe figuring prominently, the festival is undeniably a major event in photography.
The Ministry of Culture backs the Rencontres d’Arles with energy, pride, and conviction. With that, I’d like to wish every success to the 52nd year of the Rencontres d’Arles, and thank everyone on the team for their tenacity and passionate defense of photographers and photography.
WORD FROM THE MAYORPatrick de CarolisMayor of Arles
“How good it is to steer forever towards desire” Frédéric Mistral justly wrote. After long months, so hard and so deprived of cultural exchange and artistic emotion, it is equally right to express how eagerly we await the Rencontres d’Arles 2021.This year’s festival is unique because it celebrates two different legacies: one of monuments conceded by UNESCO forty years ago, and one of photography, now an integral part of Arles’ heritage. These two legacies mirror each other as our monuments host festival exhibitions, lending them vivacity and resonance. The permanent back-and-forth movement between the History inscribed in stone and the one shown on gallery walls is at the very core of a festival which contributes to Arles’ international image.
And both these events attest to the lives of human beings, with their faith, their search for light, their desire to leave signs of their passage, tragic or sublime. Ultimately, over the years, the endless search for a manner to these memories we’d like to leave behind has established a genuine conversation between the city and photography. Thus spins the endless tale; we continue to feed it, helping it grow bigger, nourishing everyone through gatherings and exchange, supported by the State or local government, the Region and the Department.Thus, we are delighted to find new sites being uncovered, like the Jardin d’été opening to the festival for the first time this year, and soon our small towns and hamlets in Crau and the Camargue will welcome similar enterprises—anywhere, essentially, that invites the people of Arles to nourish themselves through exhibitions and what they express of the world which comes traveling to us. I am hoping that even more residents will come discover this year’s festival, and future festivals, because they are the ones to inherit this exceptional legacy, and those that take in photography in all its forms.Likewise, the Rencontres d’Arles is both founder and heir. It has shown work by photography’s pioneers, preserved, notably, in the magnificent collection at the Musée Réattu constituted by Jean-Maurice Rouquette and Lucien Clergue.
It has also articulated new trends and new, even unconventional perspectives by presenting artistic creation, enquiry and testimony to the public. The city of Arles and the Rencontres d’Arles share an affinity for light: the light shined on our streets and our natural heritage, and the light that writes the photographic image.Under the leadership of Christoph Wiesner and the whole Rencontres team, and the enduring commitment of Hubert Védrine, this light reflects back to tell us about the world.This year we celebrate Arles’ heritage, able to unite builders and creators. Each summer they demonstrate together that an hourglass alone doesn’t make something valuable, rather, it’s the understanding between these two, where the former stands as a living backdrop to the latter, endlessly searching for new techniques and effects.Would it have been possible for this International Photography to exist someplace else before coming to Arles? I prefer to think not, while feeling everyone’s mounting enthusiasm.Unable to exchange culture, we plunged into shadows which clouded the entire country.In July 2021, in Arles, light will break on the city, on its monuments, its residents, and on photography. Welcome please, once again, dear festival-goers.
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