ARLES 2023

DOCKS Collective
"A Year Along the Banks"

DOCKS Collective - "A Year Along the Banks"

The Rencontres de la Photographie d'Arles - an institution since 1970 - has turned this small town in the south of France into what is now an internationally recognized center of photography. Les Rencontres focuses on contemporary photography and presents the works of renowned artists in unique exhibitions at often extraordinary locations. Many talents have already been discovered here.

Over two days, more than about twice the amount of rainfall expected for the entire month fell in parts of Western Germany. Major rivers burst their banks and sweep away entire villages, over 180 people lost their lives, a thousand others lost their homes. The days and nights from July 13 to July 15, 2021, are seen as a catastrophe of the century in Germany.

Since July 15, 2021, DOCKS has photographed as a collective in the affected regions to create a large-scale document of this historic event and its aftermath. The photographic essay "A Year Along the Banks" documents the destruction, pain, and hardships of reconstruction in the flooded areas. Through long-term contact with the affected residents on site, a body of work is created that ranges from the initial catastrophe images to the first social festive gatherings that took place again.

Discover, among others, the DOCKS Collective works produced by WhiteWall, showing documentary impressions of the devastating floods in the Ahr Valley from 2021. The 12th edition of FOTOHAUS Arles, on the theme of "Nature and Society", can be visited throughout the period of the photo festival, together with the Grow Up exhibition at the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation.

"A Year Along the Banks" by DOCKS Collective

DOCKS is a collective of five young documentary photographers founded in 2018. The members work both as individual authors and on collective projects. Their actions are based on a shared open-mindedness, honesty, and sensitivity. According to their own statements, collaborative work is a method for them to suspend and question the classic egocentric perspective of documentary photography.

In their collective project "A Year Along the Banks" they documented the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley in 2021. It quickly became clear that the reconstruction of the destroyed areas would take several years. The photographic work also invites reflection in light of the drastic effects of climate change.

WhiteWall as a partner produced a large part of the exhibition in Arles.

More about DOCKS Collective

Photo: Fabian Fischer

Photo: Fabian Fischer
Video Image
Ahr valley, flood disaster, mud with figure.

On the first day after the flood, the extent of the destruction was difficult to assess, so there was a disastrous shortage of equipment and emergency personnel in the flooded area. Ahrweiler, July 15, 2021.


Daniil Taranov (25) poses for a portrait after working for the THW in Altenahr. The building contractor from Groß-Gerau volunteered in the flood area for four days and pumped out the cellar: "I've never seen anything like it. Many citizens just talk and do nothing. But I really want to do something that is my demands on myself ". Altenahr, July 23, 2021.

People cleaning up their apartment after the flood.

Mayschoss was almost cut off from the outside world. In the first few days, people were evacuated by helicopter. Many material and drinking water deliveries also continued to be made by air. A temporary helipad was set up for this purpose. Mayschoss, July 22, 2021.

flooded area in ahr valley.

The village of Dernau in the Ahr Valley on the first night after the flood. Rescue workers search for survivors with boats. On the first day after the disaster, the water in Dernau was still high, leaving some people locked in their homes without electricity or mobile reception and with no way to call for help. Some lingered on their rooftops, sending SOS signals into the night with cell phones and flashlights. Dernau, July 15, 2021.