Arles 2012: Arnaud Claass
In 1967, Arnaud Claass finished his music studies and took up photography. He traveled throughout the United States until 1970 when he developed a personal project. “Photography is not a response, nor a question, it is an exclamation!” he declared in 1996 in “In Photographies 1968-1995”. His photographic wanderings inspired by Robert Frank or Walker Evans led him to develop the notion of series, then of landscapes. It was Alain Desvergnes who in 1983 requested that he teach. “At the time, Alain had clear ideas about the teaching program, but we quickly agreed that there had to be several elements: artistic, theoretic and technical. We were pioneers, photography didn’t exist in an academic way. A very sad French reality. On a more personal level, what brought us together was our American past. I am heavily influenced by this culture.
“There was so much to do in France, we set our goals very high, as high as possible, and invited prestigious guests. International institutions slowly became intrigued by what we were doing in the school”. In 1987, the Cahiers de la Photographie dedicated an entire issue to Arnaud Claass. It mentioned the importance of photographic culture, of knowing its history, while at the same dime denouncing some of the theories by Barthes. Arnaud Claass’ photography was featured throughout the issue, offering an “art of little”. “We each develop a photography of our own”, a sort of ethic of distance and minute detail. “I used this experience in my teachings. In the school, I tried to help them develop their own languages, their own way to express their vision of the world.”
The festival is offering the exhibition “Le livre des traductions”. (The book of translations) where Arnaud Claass transforms the trivial elements of daily life in a fragmentary and mysterious dialogue.
Claass just published a book of reflections “Le réel de la photographie”. “I am interested in several issues. Including the future of reportage, about what is beautiful in photography, the representation of violence or the evolution of the photographic market.”
You can read the full version of this article by Wilfrid Estève on the French version of La Lettre.