Biennial Exhibitions News France

Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival to present ‘parade’ of stars

This year will be swansong for the outgoing director François Hébel whose successor is named this week

The public is being asked to submit photos of France’s 40,000 monuments to fallen soldiers for a project curated by Raymond Depardon to mark the centenary of the First World War

The 45th edition of Les Rencontres d’Arles, the photography festival that takes place in the Provençal town every summer, will be a “parade” of figures that have made major contributions in previous years, the outgoing director François Hébel announced at a press conference this week.

Among the distinguished French and international alumni returning to the festival in early July are Lucien Clergue, one of the three founders, and three of the guest curators from past editions: Martin Parr (2004), Raymond Depardon (2006) and Christian Lacroix (2008).

Rather than the quintessentially English scenes that have made his name, Parr will present historic Chinese photobooks from his extensive collection. Clergue’s retrospective will include a Picasso-inspired 1950s series of image children in harlequin costume, “La grande récréation”. The Arles-born couturier Lacroix will pay tribute to local women’s traditional “Arlésienne” dress. Depardon, this year’s guest of honour, marks the centenary of the First World War with a project he is curating on France’s 40,000 monuments to fallen soldiers—for which the public is being asked to submit photographs, both digital and on film, until 15 May.

The programme is a swansong for François Hébel, who is stepping down after 13 years at the helm of the prestigious event. The director announced his resignation last November, following a protracted dispute with the Swiss art collector Maja Hoffmann, whose Luma Foundation recently broke ground on its 20-acre Arles campus.

Hoffmann is investing €100m to build an arts centre and renovate five existing buildings on the former industrial site, which had been a significant venue for Les Rencontres d’Arles under Hébel’s direction, hosting around half of the festival’s programme. The Luma Foundation is lending the first of these refurbished spaces, the 1,300 sq. m Atelier des Forges, to the 2014 edition of Les Rencontres d'Arles (7 July-21 September), but the festival’s future venues are yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, the French-born Sam Stourdzé was named to succeed Hébel as the director of the festival yesterday. The 41-year-old curator and author has led the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne since 2009, making him the first museum director to lead the festival.

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