Arles 2012: Anna-Maria Pfab reviews 3
It is exactly 19.30 now, on Saturday the 7th of July 2012, and I have finished my last review exactly one hour and ten minutes ago. It has been my third, and last, day of Photo Folio Reviews at the Rencontres d’Arles festival and today I have again seen photographers of every age producing work that ranges from visual poetry to harsh reality. And also tonight I present you with three of the projects that stood out for me!
Gilles Roudiere was one of the first photographers I have met with today and he presented a carefully produced book dummy of his project ‘Shitet’. The French photographer who currently lives in Berlin has been travelling back and forth to Albania for the past few years, producing a very sensitive photographic project about this troubled country. Roudiere’s photographic language is very contrasty and raw as well as poetic and melancholic and all the photographs in ‘Shitet’ are black and white photographs of daily scenes. It is the photographer’s aim to bring the viewer closer to this terrific and rough, but simultaneously fascinating, country and Roudiere states that ‘Albania has a bewitching soul that cannot fail to haunt you; it exhales something mysterious, a sort of indescribable magic’ – Roudiere’s photographs definitely succeed, in my opinion, in capturing his experience and perception of this country.
‘Into The Silence – Hermits of the Third Millennium’ is Carlo Bevilacqua’s, an Italian-born, Milan-based photographer, most interesting, long-term study of contemporary hermits. According to Bevilacqua hermits are ‘a growing and fascinating phenomenon,’ intelligent and well-educated inhabitants of this world who, for various and very different reasons, decided to follow a solitary life. The photographer has met and spent time with dozens of these contemporary hermits from all over the world and the dummy book he presented me with today has surprised me with the most extraordinary personalities and lifestyles. I am certain that we soon will see Bevilacqua’s book about contemporary hermits in bookshops all over the world.
Soon after Carlo Bevilacqua I had the pleasure of meeting London-based photographer Samuel J Bland. I have especially been taken by Bland’s project ‘The Long Walk Back’, which is the result of a very unusual journey through England. Bland has decided to walk from his (then) residence in Brighton to the place where he was born, which is Durham,and through all the places he has lived in-between. The desire to embark on this journey came from a sense disconnection from belonging to a place, or a people and he felt that this journey would help him ‘confront his own memories and identity’ and to explore the ‘character of his country and its people as they are today’. He has often paired images with pieces of his own, diary-style writing and the project is presented in a series of five beautifully produced booklets, held together in a slipcase, and the result of his eight-week long walk is not only a beautiful visual record of contemporary England but also the photographer’s very personal view of his country in our time.
After meeting forty photographers and talking 800 minutes about all the various projects I have been shown in the past three days I leave Arles’ ‘Salles des Fetes’. I have seen very interesting and developed projects as well as photographers who have just started to explore the medium of photography but all of them have given me some food for thought and I am already looking forward to my next portfolio reviews at the Encontros da Imagem festival in Braga, Portugal, in September!
By Anna-Maria Pfab