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The Arles Photography Festival Deuxieme Partie

July 11, 2010

What's new seems old again

The spotlight in the above picture is pointed at the  glass shattered over a framed photograph lying on the floor. Arles, in trying to maintain it’s “cutting edge” exhibition record, has opened the flush gates to any possibility or idea that an idle artist or curator might have. In some cases, really good work is debased by the decision to mount the pictures as tabletops reflecting overhead lights rather than that “old fashion” wall mount system known as hanging. Michelangelo already painted a picture on a ceiling. Why do we have to pretend that horizontal areas are new mounting surfaces?

Hanging unannounced on the way to the galleries

I walked by this photo/laundry installation on Wednesday. When I returned on Saturday, I swear that the laundry and the pictures had changed. Now this is a practical innovation in vertical hanging that integrates well with our daily lives.

Neon art by Peter Klasen

The Myth of Love was the one interesting piece in Peter Klasen’s show and reminded me of my college buddy Bill Kane‘s neon work. Unfortunately, the link is to his landscapes. Whatever happened to Bill Kane’s neon work? He used to rent them for exhibit in Hollywood movies as art to hang in the background. He really made Robo Cop worth seeing.

On the floor below Peter Klasen’s gallery was the best retrospective at Arles. Italian photographer Mario Giacomelli presented a huge show of his high contrast interpretations of the Italian world.

Young priests dancing by Mario Giacomelli

My personal favorite show by an artist I hadn’t previously known is Klavdij Sluban‘s Transsiberiades.

My favorite exhibit in Arles.

A wall by Klavdij Sluban

The Transsiberian Railroad, a Leica, and a pile of 3200 speed film make for a connection to Siberia and the East that floored me.

After seeing Sluban’s evocative work, I had no choice but to face my own limitations and return to photographing my students.

Students Tanya and Tsion wait for me to leave the exhibition.

Fortunately, I have great students and am living in a world of great opportunity. For instance, I had the rare opportunity in Arles to use an original French streetside urinal.

This was the first traditional pissior that I saw in over a month in France.

As an added bonus, Miss.Tic lies prone at the urinal entrance.

Miss.tic is a fictional graffiti celebrity in France. I have seen her everywhere.

Miss.Tic protests Botox.

Gun and assorted questionable things.

I find that going to exhibitions or cinema, and performances in general, opens my mind and alters my perspective on the world around me. While walking with my eyes truly open, I see things. I saw the (above) gun out of the corner of my eye as I passed an idling car.

Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe

Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe vie for my attention from a market stall. The world is simply full of stuff to photograph.

Andrea made a delicious salmon and shrimp salad dinner.

And, France in particular, is full of good stuff to distract me from photographing. I did manage to squeeze off this picture in the garden before embarking on yet another transcendental eating experience.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Vivian permalink
    July 12, 2010 5:10 am

    I love this posting, especially your photos after visiting Arles: a twisted Marilyn, Miss. Tic, and the dashboard. What was so evocative in the Transsibériades?

  2. July 12, 2010 6:19 am

    Transsiberiades has an abstract structure where detail is minimal and a sense of space and shape is maximized. The sky is usually dark and the frame filled with emotion soaked vastness. It seems like pictures of the Siberian soul.

  3. Mary DiChito permalink
    August 20, 2010 12:26 pm

    Hello Mr. Ward:
    My boss attended this Exhibit in Arles last month and has requested that I get her the book.
    Is there a book or books available of the entire Exhibit: Heavy Duty & Razor Sharp??

    Please let me know any information that I may need to contact the right person for these books.
    Thank you very much.


    • August 22, 2010 10:00 am

      Hi Mary, I remember seeing the book in Arles. They publish one every year. It is not a complete collection of exhibit photos. It is a very well done document of some of the pictures at the festival, though. Have you tried finding it at Amazon? Try (or UK) if the US Amazon doesn’t carry the book.

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