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Nomura Sakiko, "Untitled," 1997

Summer Photography Festival Les Rencontres D’Arles Captures the Pulse of the World

This year’s vivid edition is as significant as ever, offering vital, fresh perspectives and never-before-seen explorations at the crossroads of humanity and creativity.

This week in Arles, France, the annual summer photography festival Les Rencontres D’Arles continues over 50 years of ardent dedication to emerging visionaries and well-known luminaries alike with an extensive lineup of exhibitions currently on view through September 29. 

With a spotlight on French creatives, the dynamic presentation is globally renowned for celebrating the connection between artist and audience through photography. The comprehensive 2024 program includes a retrospective of iconic photographer Mary Ellen Mark, a rich study of graffiti by Hugo Vitrani, as well as a range of satellite shows and activities, immersing all ages in the transcendent art form. 

Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark, “Rekha with beads in her mouth,” Falkland Road, Mumbai, India, 1978. Courtesy of The Mary Ellen Mark Foundation / Howard Greenberg Gallery.

A Crucial Bridge Between Artist and Spectator Unfolds in Arles 

Spearheaded by President of the Rencontres d’Arles Hubert Védrine alongside Director Christoph Wiesner and Deputy Director Aurélie de Lanlay, program sectors include visceral titles such as “Tremors and Tremoil: Capturing the Pulses of the World,” “In Parallel: Towards New Forms and New Narratives,” and “Emergences: Searching and Uncovering Tomorrow’s Talents.” 

“A true bridge between artists and spectators, the festival has made welcoming the public one of its main commitments, with the aim of conveying the artistic intent of the guest photographers to everyone,” said Védrine. “We believe that forming an opinion about the images that surround us daily and developing a critical mindset are vital at a time when artificial intelligence tools are on the rise and the means of disinformation are being used on a massive scale.”

Lee Friedlander and Joel Cohen at Rencontres D’Arles 2024 Courtesy of Lee Friedlander / Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Luhring Augustine, New York City.

“Tremors and Tremoil” Uplifts Artists Mary Ellen Mark, Cristina de Middel, and More

Brilliantly curated by Sophia Greiff and Melissa Harris, and organized by C/O Berlin Foundation with the Mary Ellen Mark Foundation, New York, “Encounters” is a riveting voyage through the sweeping oeuvre of Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015) within the “Tremors and Tremoil” category. 

“What I’m trying to do is make photographs that are universally understood,”

—Mary Ellen Mark

Here five of the artist’s most extensive and diverse investigations are unveiled, including fierce projects illuminating the lives of street children in Seattle, sex workers in Mumbai, and institutionalized women of Oregon State Hospital. Portraits of those aided by Mother Teresa’s charities, as well as of families in India’s traveling circus, are shown beside extraordinary archival materials. Rarely seen personal commentaries and formal correspondence bring visitors into Mark’s singular process marked by true empathy and determination. 

“What I’m trying to do is make photographs that are universally understood… that cross cultural lines,” said Mark. “I want my photographs to be about the basic emotions and feelings that we all experience.”

Here, visitors will also experience the inquiries of Cristina de Middel with “Journey to the Center,” in addition to Rajesh Vora’s “Everyday Baroque (2014-2019,” Randa Mirza’s “Beirutopia,” Debi Cornwall’s “Model Citizens,” and Stephen Dock’s “Echoes.” 

Alassan Diawara Alassan Diawara, “Untitled,” 2023, courtesy of the artist / ADAGP, Paris.
Ishiuchi Miyako. Ishiuchi Miyako. “Mother’s #35,” “Mother’s” series. Courtesy of the artist / The Third Gallery Aya.

“In Parallel” Exhibitions Shine Light on Japanese Women Photographers and the History of Graffiti 

Within the “In Parallel” platform, “I’m So Happy You Are Here: Japanese Women Photographers from the 1950s to Now” sheds light on perceptive artists such as Hara Mikiko, Hiromix, Ishikawa Mao, Ishiuchi Miyako, and Katayama Mari, presented together in an inaugural exhibition recovering previously unheard voices. 

“All in the Name of the Name,” curated by Hugo Vitrani and co-produced by Palais de Tokyo with Rencontres D’Arles, delves into the historical nuances of graffiti. The universal language of protestation is seen through the eyes of 40 global artists in a prismatic symphony of photographs and archives, exposing its ebb and flow from vandalism to romanticism. 

The additional categories of “Spirits (Yōkai): At the Surface of the Real,” “Traces: Light’s Memories,” and “Rereadings: Revisiting Photography” will surprise, challenge, and delight. 

Mary Ellen Mark, Mary Ellen Mark, “Feminist demonstration,” New York City, 1970. Courtesy of The Mary Ellen Mark Foundation / Howard Greenberg Gallery.

The Satellites Program Unites Luminaries Including Lee Friedlander and Joel Cohen

This year’s Satellites program offers gems such as “Lee Friedlander Framed by Joel Cohen,” a presentation that places the photographer and filmmaker in dialogue with a film and 70 photographs. Fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz unveils “Commitment,” a must-see group exhibition with themes of migration and identity crisis at its heart. 

In addition, “Grand Arles Express: The Wind of Photography Blows Through the South of France” unveils “Sedimentary Partitions” with works by Alassan Diawara and Zineb Sedira which consider the many shades of youth, family, and community. 

Lee Friedlander, Arles. Lee Friedlander, New Jersey, 1966 (printed 2014), 11 x 14 inches. © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Luhring Augustine, New York.
Gordon Matta Clark. Gordon Matta-Clark cutting Graffiti Truck at “Alternatives” to Washington Square Art Show, June 1973. © The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner. Gordon Matta Clark. Gordon Matta-Clark cutting Graffiti Truck at “Alternatives” to Washington Square Art Show, June 1973. © The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner.
Nomura Sakiko, Nomura Sakiko, “Untitled,” 1997, série Hiroki. Courtesy of the artist / Aperture.

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