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In the first week of July in the picturesque town of Arles, there is the commencement of one of the largest photography festivals in the world. The festival lasts 3 months and just last year its attendance reached over 100,000. The festival is now in its 48th year and the official festival, Rencontres d’Arles, includes approximately 40 exhibitions and the unofficial festival, Voies-Off: Arles includes over 140 exhibitions.

2017-WOLF-cat22 : Michael Wolf, The Real Toy Story, 2004. Avec l’aimable autorisation de l’artiste. / Michael Wolf, The Real Toy Story, 2004. Courtesy of the artist.

2017-WOLF-cat22 : Michael Wolf, The Real Toy Story, 2004. Avec l’aimable autorisation de l’artiste. / Michael Wolf, The Real Toy Story, 2004. Courtesy of the artist.

The Rencontres d’Arles offers a general survey of contemporary art and journalistic photography. Huge icons such as Annie Leibovitz have their work on exhibition and she was even there to sign books. We were completely floored and inspired by the works by Michael Wolf that are on exhibition at the Eglise des Frères-Prêcheurs. Other must see exhibitions included The American colour photography master Joel Meyerowitz, Japanese radical photography influencer Masahisa Fukase, and the self-taught, Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger who methodically photographed Swiss-German outcasts who were fascinated by Elvis Presley and James Dean.

One of the best reasons to attend this festival is the very thought after portfolio reviews that are offered by both Rencontres d’Arles and Voies-Off. The huge list includes, museum curators, photography agents, photography foundation directors, festival directors and magazine editors. IRK Magazine was there to find new talents and we found several from Japan, Sweden, France and Switzerland that we hope to include in IRK’s online stories and print issues. If you plan on going next year make sure to enrol the very hour the list is available because after an hour all the reviews are booked.

Arles is definitely a must see festival for the inspiring exhibitions, the great networking possibilities, and for this lively and beautiful city in the Provence region of southern France. There are opening nights every day of the week during the first week. If we had any criticism, however, is that Fashion photography was not covered at Arles this year. We hope that in the future fashion photography will get the recognition it deserves.

We cant cover all the great exhibitions we saw at Arles but here are the highlights in our opinion!


Born 1938, New York, United States. Lives and works in New York, United States.


The American colour photography master Joel Meyerowitz began his career in New York in the 60s. As a street photographer, always out and about in the heart of his city, Meyerowitz slips and dodges through the urban fray, his eyes ever on the alert. His complex compositions toy with the notions of imbalance and deframing, and seem suspended as if by a thread. For the first time in France, the Rencontres d’Arles will exhibit forty original prints by Joel Meyerowitz, with a selection of his first photographs in black and white and in colour.

2017-MEYE-cat01 : Guichet de salle de cinéma, Times Square, New York, 1963. Avec l’aimable autorisation de l’artiste et de la Howard Greenberg Gallery / Movie Theater Booth, Times Square, New York City, 1963. Courtesy of the artist and Howard Greenberg Gallery.


Born 1954, Munich, Germany. Lives and works in Hong Kong.


For the first time ever, working in close collaboration with the Hague Museum of Photography, the Rencontres d’Arles is presenting a selective overview of the autonomous works created by Wolf. Wolf’s key 21st-century theme is “life in cities”, as he observes it in vast metropolises like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Chicago. The striking feature of these impressive series is the changing points of view adopted by the artist in order to show the complexity of modern city life. The magnum opus of the exhibition is The Real Toy Story installation (2004), featuring over 20,000 plastic “Made in China” toys found by him in junk markets and second-hand shops in the United States. Amid this overwhelming array of mass-produced stuff for kids, Michael Wolf shows sympathetic portraits of individual Chinese assembly-belt workers producing toys to satisfy the manic worldwide demand for cheap consumer goods.

​2017-WOLF-cat04: Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density, 2005-2009. Avec l’aimable autorisation de l’artiste. / Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density, 2005-2009. Courtesy of the artist.


Born 1934, Hokkaido, Japan. Died 2012, Tokyo, Japan.


Fukase: The Incurable Egoist is the first retrospective of Masahisa Fukase to take place in Europe, allowing much previously unseen material to leave Japan for the first time. Fukase is widely regarded as one of the most radical and influential photographers of his generation. This presentation considers all aspects of Fukase’s practice from the 1960s onwards, drawing on vintage prints, graphic work, as well as archival magazines and publications, to show the extent of the artist’s working life. Dealing with issues of family, love, friendship, loneliness, mortality and death, activated photographically through performance, self-portraiture, play and comedy, the exhibition establishes Fukase as one of the most innovative and original Japanese artists of the post-war period.

Cat18 : Memories of Father. Avec l’aimable autorisation de Masahisa Fukase Archives / Memories of Father. Courtesy of Masahisa Fukase Archives.


Born 1976, Beaumont, France. Lives and works in Paris, France.


In a series of self-portraits using film photography, and shown to the public for the first time, Audrey Tautou explores her image, playing with her celebrity status by turning herself into her own model. As creator of her own image, she imagines herself, not without humor, from head to toe, in dramatizations which openly bear the signs of their artificiality. These photographic fictions create the space for her long-distance look at herself, and invent another angle on the actress.

Cat01 : Sans titre. Avec l’aimable autorisation de l’artiste. / Untitled. Courtesy of the artist Audrey Tautou.

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