Monday, June 26, 2017

Rencontres Photo Fest Starts July 3 in Arles

The photo featured on the 2017 Rencontres d' Arles poster was shot by Karl Heinz Weinberger. The international festival (the 48th annual) lasts all summer but opening week (July 3 to 9) is considered the most important. 
The big Annie Leibovitz show, sponsored by LUMA Foundation, launched in late May...and it's a must-see.  It was pretty amusing asking one of the premier portrait photographers of our time to pose for my little iPhone pic at the opening...but she was totally willing and gracious. The show continues at La Grande Halle in the Parc des Ateliers until September 24...and you can buy a book based on the show.
Two iconic images by Joel Meyerowitz: New York City, 1963, and Cocktail Party, Wellfleet, 1977.
Photo by Clementine Schneidermann
Photo by Mathieu Pernot: The Gorgan Family, Arles, 1995. The artist met the family while studying photography in Arles. Until then, he says he "knew nothing about these communities, and was unaware that this line of Roma had been in France for over a century..."
Photos by Leslie Moquin: Hasta Abajo 02 and Hasta Abajo 05 
from the show "Territorio: Arles in Bogota." 
Installing the show "Levitt France." 
Photo by Julie Balague, one of five photographers featured. 
Photo by Shadi Ghadirian, Qajar, 1998.
Two photos by Gideon Mendel from the "Submerged Portraits" series, in the show "Drowning World." Pictured are Jeff and Tracey Waters (Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, UK, 2014) and Victor and Hope America (Igbogene, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, 2012).
A postcard courtesy of the Claude Ribouillault collection, from "Proportion Observed: Dwarfs, Strongmen and Giants." 
Architecture of Density by Michael Wolf, from the show 
"Life in Cities." 
From Mathieu Asselin's show "Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation," taken in Van Buren, Indiana in 2013.
An untitled image from "The Kogi Indians: The Memory of Possibilities," 
with 40 photos by Éric Julien.
Photo by Iranian photographer Newsha Tavakolian, whose work is featured in the show "Iran, Année 38" and in the Les Nuits program "Iran Now,"  to be held in Arles' Théâtre Antique on July 8 at 10 pm.

The 48th annual Rencontres d'Arles, the large international photography festival, runs from July 3 to September 24 in Arles. 

Overlapping dates with the Rencontres, another photo festival called Voies Off (which most people just call "the Off") is also ongoing in Arles, with a wide range of photo shows in galleries and other sites. Most if not all are free and tickets are not required.  To learn more about Voies Off, their website in English is here

As in years past, the Rencontres stages themed and stand-alone exhibits (this year's count: 40 exhibits), panel discussions, lectures, book signings, open-air screenings, evening events, workshops for kids and adults, guided tours and more. Last year, more than 100,000 people attended at least one festival event. 

Most but not all of the exhibits stay up until the end of the festival. Sometimes co-produced with French and/or foreign museums and institutions, exhibits are staged in various galleries, museums and purpose-built sites around the city; the festival will use roughly 30 different venues this year. Some sites (for example, a 12th-century chapel or 19th-century industrial building) are open to the public only during the Rencontres. 

This year, the Rencontres has two new sites, both at the edge of Arles' historical center on Boulevard Émile Combes. Called Crosiere and Maison des Peintres, they were created from derelict houses, old shops, warehouses and urban land. Open to the public for the first time, they’ve been reconfigured as exhibition sites and walkways specifically for the Rencontres. 

As in years past, exhibits and activities are grouped by theme. This themes for 2017 are Latina, The Experience of Territory, World Disorders, Platforms of the Visible, I Am Writing to You from a Far-Off Country, Mise en Scene, Rereadings and Odd Collectors, New Discovery Award, Emergences, Grand Arles Express and Associated Programs.

A list of all 2017 Rencontres exhibits is here.

Top shows this year are expected to include: 

*   Joel Meyerowitz. Called "Early Works," the show at the Salle Henri-Comte will include 40 original prints from the New York-born master photographer. "The work in the gallery space was selected by Rencontres director Sam Stourdzé and is all vintage work in color," Joel told me by email. "Sam felt that with all the modern printing we see these days, it would be good to show what prints looked like just 40 years ago." The show runs July 3rd to August 27. On Thursday July 6th from 4:30 to 5 pm, Meyerowitz will give a guided tour of the show, open to anyone with a pass (ticket).

*   Annie Leibovitz. This show opened on May 26 in La Grande Halle of the Parc des Ateliers and stays up until September 24. It comprises some 8,000 images and spotlights Leibovitz' earliest work (1970 to '83), hung chronologically in separate "rooms" in a huge, wonderful space. You'll see iconic shots you'll recognize immediately and many you've never seen before. The show is sponsored by LUMA Foundation, general admission is 7€ and all the info, in English, is here.

The careers of Meyerowitz and Leibowitz will also be celebrated through special evening events at the Theatre Antique; both artists will be present and more info on that appears below. 

*   Iran, Année 38 at the Eglise Sainte-Anne, features the work of 66 Iranian photographers 
capturing the artistic, social and political upheavals of their country. It runs from July 3 to August 27. 

*  Audrey Tautou. Her show,"Superfacial" runs from July 3 to September 24, at the Abbaye de Montmajour. (Note, the Abbey is 5 km north of Arles, not in the city itself. It's a fantastic site, a Benedictine monastery built between the 10th and 18th centuries.) More info about the Audrey Tautou show is here.

As in year's past, the opening week of the festival (July 3 to 9) is always the busiest...and it's the week that many industry professionals attend. To see the opening week schedule in French and English, click here.

Highlights of opening week include:

*   Photography Nights...during which the Roman-era Théâtre Antique, city churches and old industrial sites will become unique night-time backdrops for special evenings of projected images and accompanying talks. These evenings under the stars tend to begin with an award ceremony...and then move on to a screening of photos or film designed specifically designed for the stunning, 2000-year-old venue or other sites. Three examples:

On Tuesday July 4 at the Théâtre Antique, following a photo book awards program and Part #1 of a presentation on experimental photography by Marc Lenot, the Rencontres welcomes Joel Meyerowitz. "My evening talk and show will be an overview of my 50+ years as a photographer with the emphasis on color," he says.

On Thursday July 6, after another awards presentation and Part #2 of Marc Lenot's experimental-photography presentation, Annie Leibovitz will take the stage to show and discuss her work, with the loose topic of "what makes a photo iconic."

On Saturday July 8, the program in the Théâtre Antique is "Iran Now," which echoes the show Iran, Année 38. 

Separate tickets for these "Les Nuits" events are required; to see the full program schedule in English, click here.

*   The Night of the Year ("Nuit de L'Année") takes place on July 7, from 6 pm onwards at Papeteries Étienne in Trinquetaille. Visitors are invited to wander across the Trinquetaille Bridge, from La Roquette to Trinquetaille, and on to the abandoned paper mill, which is open to the public for this event only. This year,  40 artists, photographers and institutions "that the festival has discovered or fallen in love with" were given carte blanche and their work will be projected in loops on six screens. This is also a chance to see "Byopaper!" with images by another 30 artists. More than 4 000 visitors came to the 2016 edition of this free-access, evening event.

*   During opening week, many exhibiting photographers will be on hand to present their work.  Then from July 10 through September 24, a team of mediators/photographers will offer daily 90-minute guided tours at various exhibition sites. These tours require no reservation and are free for pass holders. Info is available at all ticket offices and in the "Plan your visit" section of the Rencontres website here

For the ninth year, a satellite event called Cosmos-Arles Books puts the spotlight on photography books. This year, 80 international publishers will be represented, showing new books, rare books and limited editions. Cosmos-Arles Books offers experimental exhibitions and publication projects, conferences, pop-ups, book signings, talks with artists and a host of other events featuring photo books. For example on Wednesday July 5 at 5:30 pm, Joel Meyerowitz will have a one-one-one discussion with Le Point and a book signing at Cosmos (at #2 rue Condorcet), which is where all the publishers and book events will be held during the festival's opening week. This event is free and open to the public. For all the info about Cosmos-Arles Books, click here.

The Rencontres also offers photo portfolio reviews by appointment...and hosts spring, summer and weekend photo workshops; info on these programs is here.

Practical Info:

Tickets to all Rencontres events may be purchased online here...or at five ticket offices:

*Festival Office: 34 Rue du Docteur Fanton 

*Espace Van Gogh: Place Félix Rey 

*Place de la République/Église Sainte-Anne: Place de la République 

*Ground Control: next to the main Arles train station 

*Parc des Ateliers – Grande Halle: access is from the Chemin des Minimes

Exhibit tickets may be purchased individually or in multi-day passes.  Info on all passes is hereFree entry is granted to anyone under age 18, all citizens of Arles and the disabled. Groups of 10 or more get special rates as do students, job-seekers, large families and companions to the disabled. Please note that some shows/venues are not included in pass prices and must be purchased separately. 

Make sure to get a map to all exhibits when you stop by a ticket office; they should also have them at the Arles Tourist Office and elsewhere around the city. There's a map online here.

For comprehensive info about the festival, all the photographers and shows, see the press kit in English here.

The festival office/headquarters is located at #34, rue du Docteur Fanton in Arles and remains open throughout the fest.  For questions, email:
. Help in English may be available by calling:  +33 (0)4 90 96 76 06.

The full Rencontres website in English is here ... while their FacebookTwitter and Instagram are being continually updated with photos, videos and more.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Invite: Another Fine French 4th of July Fête!

Last week I told you about a 4th of July party in Provence for American expats who are Democrat...or leaning that way.  Today I’ve got another holiday invite for you...but this one is open to everyone.  One love, baby!

The American Club of the Riviera (ACR) will host a Musical Evening and Dinner on Tuesday July 4 at Castel Plage restaurant in Nice.

While enjoying a three-course dinner, you’ll be entertained by French-American soprano Amy Christianna Blakepraised by the New York Times for her beautiful singing, strong energy and stage presence.  Amy is a West-Texas native now living on the Côte d’Azur.

My peeps at the ACR tell me that Amy and her quartet of “cream of the crop” musicians will be doing Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Gershwin and more, “to carry us into that chic and svelte ambiance of the Great White Way.”  And because no "Broadway Classics" evening is complete without a few numbers à la Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly, dancers from the Nice Jazz Off Dance Academy have been invited to perform.

The party starts with an apero at 7:30 pm and the dress code is smart casual. Tickets are 75€ pp for ACR members and 85€ pp for guests. Please confirm your reservation as soon as possible, before Tuesday June 27th, as the event will almost certainly sell out; 80 guests are expected. Reservations can’t be confirmed without payment and there's no "pay at the door.” To book and get more info, click here. Questions? Call +33 (0)6 48 62 39 72 or email:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Fourth of July Fête for American Expats

To celebrate Independence Day, Joan Jarowski--the new chair of the Avignon Chapter of Democrats Abroad--and her husband Charlie are hosting a poolside potluck buffet and BBQ at their home near Cavaillon on Sunday July 2nd, from 12 to 5 pm (rain or shine). 

The idea, Joan tells me, is to share a festive holiday afternoon with fellow American expats but also to spread the word about Democrats Abroad and reel in some new members; there are also chapters in Marseille and Toulouse. The party is free to attend but donations to the group's treasury will be welcomed.

For the buffet, Joan suggests bringing meat, fish or veggies for grilling; a side dish, salad or dessert to share with others; and a bottle of something to drink. 

To RSVP, email Joan (, tell her how many in your group and what you'd like to bring. She'll reply with directions and a map. Don't forget swimsuits and towels...and all your American expat friends!