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  • Desert Isle Motel, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1979. Courtesy of Luïscius. © Toon Michiels

  • Waiting Room, from the Leakage series, 2011. Courtesy of the artist. © Anna Orlowska

  • Simmon: A Private Landscape, 1971. Courtesy of the artist, Jean-Kenta Gauthier, Paris, and Akio Nagasawa Gallery, Tokyo. © Eikoh Hosoe

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Inside the Arles Photography Festival 2015

Les Rencontres d’Arles, the oldest photography festival in the world that each summer is held in the city of Arles, France, opened its gates some days ago with an impressive selection of vintage and contemporary photography. The festival, which was founded in 1970 by photographer Lucien Clergue, writer Michel Tournier and historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette, gathers each year more than 90,000 visitors from all over the world, setting the standards for all international photography festivals. The 46th edition of the festival is curated by Sam Stourdzé, who takes the reins form François Hébel, and features 39 exhibitions that are spread across 20 venues in some the city’s most iconic historical and architectural monuments, showcasing more than 3,500 works by 250 artists. Stourdzé’s goal was to broaden the festival’s scope, exploring the relationship of photography with other creative disciplines, among them architecture, cinema and music, while continuing being, at the same time, an exciting platform for discussion and experimentation.

This year’s program includes the “Rereading” section, which focuses on the lesser-known aspects of legendary photographers Stephen Shore and Walker Evans; the “I am writing to you from a far-off country” section, with an exhibition dedicated to eight Japanese photographers, among them Daisuke Yokota, Eiko Hosoe and Masahisa Fukase, and a show that explores German missionary and anthropologist Martin Gusinde’s photos of the Selk’nam, Yamana and Kawésqar societies of Tierra del Fuego; the “Platforms of the visible” section that highlights new approaches to documentary photography; the “Emergences” section that focuses on new talents and includes ten exhibitions by ten young photographers that compete for the prestigious Discovery award; and the “Resonances” section that opens a dialogue between photography and other creative disciplines, including an exhibitions dedicated to Fellini’s 8½ film and a retrospective of album cover photography, titled “Total Records”.

Last, but not least, a new satellite event, titled “Arles Books”, will offer visitors the chance to discover the latest photography publications from all around the world. “The festival is a physical meeting place, a link between the artists and the public. One of the reasons I think people like to travel to Arles is that the public partakes in a very unique experience,” Sam Stourdzé recently told Lensculture magazine. “Whereas the museum experience is more or less static, Arles offers many means of meeting [recall, of course, the name of the festival]. A visitor might have the chance to meet an artist, to see the work placed within a church and to discuss what he or she saw with a stranger—who is a fellow photography-lover,” he concluded. Les Rencontres d’Arles festival will run until September 20, 2015.