Spectrum Photographic travelled to the south of France this week for the opening of Rencontres d’Arles 2017.
We enjoyed a beautiful city, sunshine, wonderful food and, of course, amazing photography.
Held every summer since 1970 the Rencontres d’Arles has a reputation for showcasing the best of world photography. It provides a springboard for photographic and contemporary creative talents.
Here are some of our highlights from this year’s festival.
Gideon Mendel: Drowning World
Drowning World explores the human impact of climate change in a series of images showing the aftermath of floods across the globe.
However, rather than a clinical documentary account of disaster zones, Gideon Mendel focuses on the personal dimension of flooding.
Drowning World includes three main bodies of work. The images have been taken over the course of 10 years in 13 different countries.
The Submerged Portraits are intimate images of flood victims. They stand in the submerged foreground of their ruined homes or stare into the camera chest-deep in water.
The marks left when the water subsides are the focus of Floodlines series. Mendel wanted to ‘capture the paradox of order within the chaos’.
Watermarks features flood-damaged personal photographs. Some have been fished out of the floodwaters as they floated by. Washed out and damaged they show half families in homes which no longer exist.
Niels Ackermann & Sébastien Gobert: Looking for Lenin
In the process of ‘decommunisation’, Ukraine has toppled all its Lenin monuments.
Since the summer of 2015 Niels Ackermann and Sébastien Gobert have travelled the country to the crumbled stone plinths where those monuments once stood.
Their collection of images, sitting ‘halfway between documentary and symbolism’, give a startling insight into a country which is redefining its identity.
A book of the images, Looking for Lenin, is published by Fuel here in the UK.
Roger Ballen: The House of the Ballenesque
Injured dolls and dark, almost childlike, drawings on the walls create a sense of looming threat and disturbance in The House of the Ballenesque.
This is a place where the different parts of Roger Ballen’s ‘photography and installation art come together’. But this is not home represented as a sanctuary but as a ‘place of deep discovery’.
Ballen believes when people seek refuge from the outside they take a more perilous journey inward.
This unique installation sees each room representing one aspect of his aesthetic. The mind is a house and the viewer is guided through each room – from the darkest corners to the lightest spaces.
Mathieu Pernot: The Gorgans
In 1995 Mathieu Pernot met the Gorgan family while he was was studying at École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles.
As a young photographer he knew nothing about the Roma community or their history in France dating back more than a century.
When he started to learn more about the family he realised he had to move away from using strictly black and white documentary images. To accurately represent the diverse characters and culture he needed equally diverse forms.
Almost two decades later, in 2013, he reunited with the same family to continue the tale.
The Gorgans introduces the viewer to each member of the family. It recounts the story Pernot and the Gorgans ‘wrote together, face to face, then side by side’.
Blank Paper: Stories of the Immediate Present
At the start of the new century a group of photographers established a collective in Madrid. They called it Blank Paper.
The members are: Julián Barón, Ricardo Cases, Federico Clavarino, David Hornillos, Alejandro Marote, Óscar Monzón, Bernardita Morello, Miren Pastor, Michele Tagliaferri, Fosi Vegue and Antonio M. Xoubanova.
At its core, Blank Paper promotes collaboration and exchange of ideas among diverse artists who share a common intellectual goal.
Stories of the Immediate Present gathers together the most recent works of the collective and some of their favoured collaborators.
Rencontres d’Arles is on until September 24.
Exhibitions are open every day from 10am to 7.30pm. Last admission 30 minutes before closing time.
More information on all of the exhibitions is available on the Rencontres d’Arles website.