The starkest contrast on view at the Rencontres d’Arles 2016 can be found at the Méjan, one floor below the yellow-tinted exhibition of Tkachenko’s white photographs. It’s not a clash between two photographic styles, but a radical opposition between two ethos, two ways of relating to the photographed subject and therefore to the world –two philosophical standpoints, in fact. The subject at hand is Butoh, the Japanese danse –a rebel, introspective, radical and subversive art form– created by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno at the end of the 1950s. Continue reading
Up until two years ago, the photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles used to feature (too) heavily Martin Parr (and a few others…). I was therefore thrilled to start off the 2016 edition with Don McCullin’s exhibition in the Saint-Anne church. Why? Because, except for one glass case in the middle of the church displaying magazines, it is not about McCullin the great war photographer, but rather his “social” outlook –a facet I personally barely knew of. Contrarily to Parr’s snide and derisive signature approach to British middle class we have grown accustomed to, McCullin has nothing but tenderness and empathy for his subjects, even when he documents the daily life of homeless people in London, showing no trace of scorn or aloofness. Continue reading
To question the nature of photography is the aim of Pandora’s Box, an exhibition curated by Jan Dibbets at the MAMVP in Paris (a museum the artist is familiar with), from March 25 to July 17, 2016. Hailing from conceptual art, Dibbets was among the first to examine photography itself (alongside William Anastasi, then Michael Snow, John Hilliard, Tim Rautert and Ugo Mulas). Around 1970, he created a series of photographs addressing the processes and mechanisms of photography , as well as its essence, as opposed to the images represented: the “how” of photography rather than its “what.” In this exhibition, Dibbets presses forward with these same concerns, reframing them within the history of photography, and nourishing them with readings of Vilém Flusser’s ideas –a thinker he discovered while preparing the exhibition. (This fact was of great interest to me, of course; it is more thoroughly explained in a video of his interview with Fabrice Hergott than in the catalogue).
Pandora’s Box has been put together by an artist, not an art historian, and therefore there were some liberties taken, some partial choices made, some incongruous selections (especially in the last section, which was quite disappointing), and some bizarre omissions (from the five precursors I just cited, only Anastasi and Snow are featured, and Mulas’ absence in particular is baffling, if it is not simply a petty move by Dibbets). Those choices will appeal or not to the visitor, but –at least until the last section– they make for a compelling exhibition. Continue reading