Arles - Capital of Photography
Every year since 1970, the whole world of photography has met in Arles to discover new work, discuss the scene and enjoy a rich and eclectic program around contemporary photography. Beyond the official program of "Les Rencontres d'Arles", many artists, collectives and galleries come to share their own projects. Arles has welcomed many prestigious artists in the past and has fostered many new talents, making this small town in the south of France into an important hub for art photography, attracting thousands of photography enthusiasts each year.
*Golden Age* by Delphine Diallo, an exhibition produced by WhiteWall
WhiteWall is producing most of the "Golden Age" exhibition from the artist Delphine Diallo that is being presented in the Fisheye Gallery in Arles during the Rencontres. The exhibition mixes photos and collage. In it, we are invited into the anthropological and spiritual world of the artist who had access to a private collection of pieces of African art from which she was able to select some artifacts to bring to life by integrating these centuries-old symbolic and spiritual objects into in portraits of Black women as African queens, breathing new life into their divinity. Faithful to her feminist commitment, the artist reflects on the Black woman and the role of the body in particular through this series of portraits.
For this series that uses monochrome tones, the gallery director and exhibition curator Salomé d'Ornano chose matte laminate print on Alu-Dibond.
Salomé d'Ornano, Director of the Fisheye Gallery
Salomé d'Ornano is the director of the Fisheye Gallery in Arles and in Paris. In the interview, the art and photography enthusiast shares her experiences with us, explains what the Rencontres d'Arles means to the international photography scene and tells us why she chose to exhibit the work of Delphine Diallo during the Rencontres this summer. Finally, Salomé d'Ornano, who lives in Paris and is regularly traveling for international art photography events, shares her favorite artists and exhibitions that she has discovered this year.
Interview with Salomé d'Ornano, Fisheye Gallery Director
Would you please introduce yourself and explain your work as the director of the Fisheye Gallery?
I'm Salomé d’Ornano and I have been the director of the Fisheye Gallery for a year now. Based in Paris (Xth) and Arles (Jouvène street), the gallery specializes in contemporary photography. We currently represent eight photographers comprising five women and three men of different nationalities, each of which have different styles and eclectic creative visions that are in line with the Fisheye Gallery's own mission to push the limits of contemporary creation.
What does the Rencontres d’Arles mean to you?
The Rencontres d’Arles is a special moment like no other. It is a week where all the important names in both French and international photography meet. It's a period of vibrancy, of creativity, and of "encounters" as its name "Rencontres" suggests. Being present for the whole festival season is an important part of our aim to make our artists stand out and shine in the French and international photography scenes.
Why did you choose to exhibit Delphine Diallo in the gallery for the festival period? What do you think is important about her work?
Delphine Diallo is an incredible, multi-faceted artist with an interest in social issues and particularly feminism, which is more necessary than ever. She is a photographer who has both an interesting life and a unique career path–since getting her start at the Charpentier Academy, she was an assistant to Peter Beard and today she works and lives between Paris, New York and Dakar. Her work mixes photography with collage, which makes it stand out, and her hybrid, original work is firmly rooted in contemporary art. I think it's important to exhibit an artist with deep convictions at a festival as prestigious as the Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles.
What are your best discoveries in photography this year? Can you share some favorites?
There has been a very rich program in Paris this year with the collective exhibition Love Songs at the European House of Photography (MEP), Women war photographers at the Liberation Museum, Photography at war at the Army Museum, the inauguration of the Albert Kahn Museum collection, August Sanders right now at the Centre Pompidou and many others... it's hard to decide between all of these, but I was very moved by the Women war photographers exhibition. It is a subject that I have worked on a lot both during and after my studies. For me, it is so important to give visibility to female photographers to rewrite history in the feminine. We also recently exhibited the works of Christine Spengler, the only photographer from this exhibition who is still alive.
I have a lot of photography favorites because it's a medium that I find particularly moving. I recently met Lucas Leffler, a young Belgian photographer who was exhibited at Approche in 2021. He was inspired to experiment with mud-based photography based on an article he found in the archives. The article told the story of a creek beside the Agfa-Gevaert company in which people could find silver in the mud. The factory produced photography products and was dumping a large amount of silver into the creek in its waste water. This story and its treatment got my mind wondering and immersed me in a search for treasure to get this photo myself.
I was also very glad to discover at the MEP the work of the Chinese-Japanese duo RongRong & inri, who were exhibited at the Rencontres d’Arles in 2007. As well as the Lebanese photographer Maria Kassab, whose work focuses on the political and cultural climate in Lebanon and the MENA region. She blends photography, photograph manipulation and video.