Rencontres d’Arles 2024: top 8 photo exhibitions not to be missed

Since its creation in 1970 under the impetus of the Arlesian photographer Lucien Clergue, the writer Michel Tournier and the historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette, the Rencontres d’Arles have punctuated the summers of the Provençal town. 100,000 visitors flock there each year to immerse themselves in the world of photographers and its festive atmosphere. From July 3 to September 24, four prizes will be awarded, reinforcing the prestige of the cultural event. The jury will present the Fondation Louis Roederer Discovery Prize, the public prize, the author’s book prize and the photo-text book prize.

For its 55th edition, the photography festival also offers around forty exhibitions scattered across the city. This year, the focus is on the “eddies, spirits, traces, parallel readings and rereadings”which served as perspectives for the different artists. “On the margins or established, stories lead to multiple voices”, indicates in the preamble the festival press release. Selection of 8 of these voices with plural demands and themes.

Exposition Mary Ellen Mark, Met

First world retrospective of American portrait painter Mary Ellen Mark, Met is intended as an exchange between people from different backgrounds. For years, the photographer who died in 2015 captured individuals who led lives that were the polar opposite of his own.. Her photographs mix the marginalized, the left behind and the celebrities. Throughout the exhibition, our gaze will turn to traveling circus families in India, sex workers in Mumbai or women placed in institutions at the Oregon State Hospital. Rare archives will also be presented to visitors, such as the photographer’s contact sheets, her personal notes and her official correspondence.
Where: on the ground floor of the Espace Van Gogh

© The Mary Ellen Mark Foundation / Howard Greenberg GalleryMary Ellen Mark. Feminist demonstration, New York, 1970. Courtesy of The Mary Ellen Mark Foundation / Howard Greenberg Gallery

Exhibition Cristina De Middel, Journey to the center

Inspired by the adventure novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, published in 1864, the Spanish Cristina De Middel reveals to the public her own journey. The latter takes her to trace the story of a migration between southern Mexico and Felicity, a small town in California. Herself based in the Mexican city of Uruapan, the photographer seeks to bear witness to its complex nature, too often simplified by the media. Reality and fiction mix, intersect and this crossing of continents is transformed into a heroic epic for individuals in search of hope. Cristina De Middel also signs the festival poster with a portrait where magic happened during a morning meeting.
Where: Church of the Preaching Friars

© Cristina De Middel/ Magnum PhotosCristina De Middel. Back again [Volver Volver]Journey to the Center series, 2021. Courtesy of the artist/Magnum Photos.

Exposition What a joy to see you

Produced by the artistic institution Aperture, What a joy to see you revealed the importance of Japanese female photographers from the 1950s to the present day. Through the work of 26 artists, the exhibition seeks to oppose the previously established narratives and canons of the history of Japanese photography. Another boundary it seeks to abolish: that of gender. Until then, Japanese photography was essentially masculine, hence the importance of also imposing feminine perspectives. Three more specific themes emerge from this hanging: the observation of everyday life, critical perspectives on Japanese society as well as experiments and extensions of the photographic form.
Where: at the Archbishop’s Palace

Kawauchi Rinko. Untitled, the eyes, the ears series, 2002-2004. Courtesy of the artist / Aperture.
© Kawauchi Rinko / ApertureKawauchi Rinko. Untitled, the eyes, the ears series, 2002-2004. Courtesy of the artist / Aperture.

Exhibition Ishuichi Doors, Belongings

Winner of the Prix Women In Motion 2024, Japanese Ishiuchi Miyako is also celebrated at the exhibition Belongings bringing together some of his iconic series, such as Mother’sHiroshima/hiroshima et Frida. In the series Mother’sthe photographer managed to immortalize her own mother, who was initially reluctant to remain frozen in a film. “I didn’t get along very well with my mother when she was alive, but as I was photographing her things, it seemed to me that the distance between us was gradually narrowing.” A dive into his intimacy but also an exploration of more universal notions such as those of life and death.
Where: at the Henri-Comte hall

© Ishiuchi Miyako / The Third Ishiuchi Miyako. Mother’s #35, Mother’s series. Courtesy of the artist / The Third

Exhibition Vimala Pons and Nhu Xuan Hua, Heaven and Hell

Halfway between performing art, performance and photography, the work of artists Vimala Pons and Nhu Xuan Hua is truly hybrid. The exhibition Heaven and Hell East “a collection of fragments from all those houses where we found shelter, of all those that we have also dreamed of inhabiting, whose walls, broken here, reveal the stories of transformed realities.” In these real or dreamlike dwellings, characters evolve. Each of them is shaped from a real or fictional heroine. From pop culture to sports, including the film industry, these models have participated in the construction of the identity of Vimala Pons and Nhu Xuan Hua.
Where: Saint-Blaise Church

Nhu Xuan Hua and Vimala Pons. His Clicks and Clacks, 2024.
© Nhu Xuan Hua and Vimala PonsNhu Xuan Hua and Vimala Pons. His Clicks and Clacks, 2024.

Exposition Car-bar: a short history of the railway meal

From the 1860s onwards, meals served on trains became standard in the United States before conquering the globe. In Europe, the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits was a pioneer in this field. It is this period of history that the exhibition focuses on Car-bar: a short history of the railway meal pays tribute. From the funds of the former Compagnie internationale des wagons-lits and the Archives Documentation Service of the SNCF group, the photographs bear witness to this period of 19th century history. Both advertising and industrial, the photos reveal a new modernity of which we are proud and which must be displayed at all costs.
Where: at the Cruise area

© The Arles MeetingsService on board a dining car of the Capitole train, 1966.

Exposition In the name of the name

The exhibition In the name of the name (re)gives graffiti its letters of nobility, at the same time “feeling, attitude and modus operandi.” It shows street art by focusing on those who have poured out their hearts on walls since the 1970s until today. Some forty artists from all four corners of the planet portray this disorder and this imagery of trouble. Documentary photography, atmosphere, action, intimate archive, burnt, forgotten memory, pictorial photography, police photography reveal the different facets of graffiti.
Where: Saint Anne Church

Gordon Matta-Clark torch cutting his Graffiti Truck at “Alternatives,” Washington Square Art Show, June 1973. Courtesy of the Gordon Matta-Clark Estate.
© l’Estate Gordon Matta-ClarkGordon Matta-Clark torch cutting his Graffiti Truck at “Alternatives,” Washington Square Art Show, June 1973. Courtesy of the Gordon Matta-Clark Estate.

Exposition Be on the look-out

The exhibition Be on the look-out focuses on The feeling of unease exploited by seven artists presented for this fourth edition of the Discovery Prize. “It evokes an acuity to the world, a physical and psychological state where the artist remains alert to address the troubles of the time without giving in to frontality.” Tshepiso Mazibuko, Coline Jourdan, François Bellabas, Cemil Batur Gökçeer, Marilou Poncin, Matan Mittwoch and Nanténé Traoré reveal their own definition of the term, which is as ambiguous as it is linked to a personal feeling.
Where: at the Monoprix space

The exhibitions of Arles Meetings 2024 will take place every day from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (including public holidays), from July 1 to September 29 inclusive.

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