Rencontres d’Arles

Rencontres d’Arles is a summer photography festival in southern France. Celebrating 50 years this year, the festival has been a major influence in photography globally, attracting thousands of visitors each year via an extensive program of exhibitions, talks and events.


50 years of a photographic adventure! This is what the Rencontres d’Arles, celebrating their 50th edition, will be offering this year. The Rencontres has collected archives and memories to illustrate what has always been its singularity: bringing together photographers and the public, every July, in Arles.

Celebrating this institution is also a way of honoring and extending the work of its founders, Lucien Clergue, Michel Tournier and Jean‑Maurice Rouquette, who has left us this year. Their aim was to make photography more accessible, which is why the Ministry of Culture strongly supports the Rencontres d’Arles and photography in the country of its birth. The ministry leads an active policy by supporting creation (ambitious photography commissions, venues), image education (Diagonal program), heritage funds and publishing, from documentary photography to photojournalism. This year, the Rencontres d’Arles coincides with the unveiling of the new building, designed by Marc Barani, of the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie, a place of knowledge and transmission, full of ambition for the photographers of tomorrow. We will get to admire the work of artists Raphaël Dallaporta and Pierre Nouvel, created as part of the artistic 1%. Teaching, decentralization, artistic creation, support for artists, mediation and accessibility: the cornerstones of the Ministry of Culture, as intended by André Malraux during its creation in 1959, are thereby brilliantly illustrated. The program of the Rencontres takes us on a journey through major themes. This year, I particularly welcome the monographic exhibitions of women artists in emblematic venues. I would like to thank Hubert Védrine, president, Sam Stourdzé, director, and all the teams whose work has turned the festival into a key moment in world photography, and for their commitment to the fair remuneration of artists. After a record attendance in 2018 with 140,000 visitors, I wish a great success to this anniversary edition. Happy Rencontres to all!



On the eve of the 50th Rencontres d’Arles, I would like to pay tribute to Jean‑Maurice Rouquette, who passed away at the start of 2019. Rouquette was the last of Arles’s founders, with his “brother” Lucien Clergue, and writer Michel Tournier. He was erudite and passionate about history, especially the history of Arles; a pioneer who imagined a brighter future for the city. The people of Arles and photographers around the world know what they owe him, and what we owe all three of them. The first festival was held in 1970, in City Hall’s ceremony room on a July evening in stifling heat. Organizers feared a flop, but starting at 9pm, people invaded the room, took over the benches, the stairwell, and stood in the hallway to see the first slides projected onto a screen and discussed late into the night. In half a century, the Rencontres has changed, and Arles has changed. Photography has changed. But Arles’ connection to photography has strengthened over the years with each festival, for both objective and expressive reasons. Lucien Clergue liked recalling the etymology of the word photography: writing with light. Arles’ light has had its incidence on the history of photography. Half a century is almost a third of photography’s story, from the spread of Nicéphore Niépce’s invention, to a daily habit for billions of people all over the world. In half a century, the Rencontres d’Arles has moved from the ceremony hall (still the site of Arles’ annual press conference) to the Commanderie Sainte‑ Luce, the Musée Réattu, followed by the Théâtre Antique, which has become their nightly venue. Starting in 1976, the Rencontres found permanent headquarters in a private hotel provided by mayor Jacques Perrot. The festival has also grown from a handful of volunteers in 1970 to 400 employees in the summer (among with 120 state‑aided contracts, including a three‑month training program). Just as in all human endeavors, there has been crisis and failure, success and exploit. Over the
years, we have seen the creation of the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (ENSP) in 1982, which will move into a new building this coming school year, inaugurated this summer; and the revival of the Ateliers SNCF, thanks to the Luma Foundation, whose president, Maja Hoffmann, has been a supporter of the Rencontres d’Arles for close to twenty years now. The festival has spread from the historical center to workshops rebuilt to international museum standards, and up to the former papermill at Trinquetaille. The festival has contributed to Arles’ development, and has benefited, in return, from collective momentum. The Off festival, for one, includes up to 160 pop‑up galleries! The Rencontres d’Arles’ 50th year will be true to pioneer spirit, with a mix of audacity and generosity, tradition and innovation, rigor and celebration: the touchstones of Arles. I’d like to thank our dedicated public and private partners who make the festival possible. First, the state and the Ministry of Culture, under the direction of Franck Riester, who I’ll be happy to welcome to Arles; the Provence‑Alpes‑Côte d’Azur Regional Council and its president, Renaud Muselier; Bouches‑du‑Rhône General Council and its president Martine Vassal, the Communauté d’Agglomération ACCM and its president Claude Vulpian; as well as our private partners: the Luma Foundation, Olympus, BMW, the SNCF and many others. With great thanks to the whole team working around Sam Stourdzé, I would like to wish all the photography fans and Arles lovers a fantastic 50th year at the Rencontres.


This summer, the Rencontres d’Arles will celebrate its 50th edition in style. The festivities will begin during the opening week and last until September, for our and your greatest pleasure. New cities and institutions will be joining the celebration through the rich program of the Grand Arles Express. Let us bid them welcome, from Port de Bouc (No Fish No Future, Anne‑Catherine Becker‑Echivard), Cavaillon (The Luberon of Willy Ronis), Marseille (two exhibitions at the Friche La Belle de Mai and one at the Centre photographique de Marseille), Toulon (Musée de la Marine) and Nîmes (Musée du Vieux Nîmes). Many thanks to Frac Paca, the Mucem, Carré d’Art de Nîmes, the Hôtel des Arts de Toulon, and the Collection Lambert in Avignon, who remain by our side to proudly represent photography. This 50‑year anniversary is also an opportunity for us to look back on our story, our archives and collections. For the past two years, we have made an inventory of our photographic and audiovisual archives, of which close to 300,000 have already been listed. This meticulous process allowed us to update our exceptional collection of 3,300 photographs, which have been indexed and digitized. The collection, kept at the Musée Réattu, will be shared online this summer, extending a task that has been close to our heart since the very beginning: to promote the work of the photographers we have defended and who put their trust in us. The Rencontres d’Arles also and especially embodies 50 years of a wonderful human adventure, undertaken by Lucien Clergue, Jean‑ Maurice Rouquette and Michel Tournier, a festival created by photographers, for photographers. To this day, it remains a growing story of friendship and passion, serving photographers. Over the years, the identity of the festival has also been shaped by a desire to act in favor of individuals known to be isolated from the employment market. By offering six months contracts at the festival reception, the Rencontres d’Arles is a major contributor to integration through their economic activity. In ten years, nearly 2,000 Arlesians have been part of this plan which offers both extensive training and field work. Close to 70% have found a long‑term job the following year. At the peak of its activity, nearly 400 people work together to deliver a successful festival and to promote the work of photographers and artists who change our perception of the world.

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8 Monaten ago

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