After breakfast, I make my way over to the Parc des Ateliers, passing through the old town of Arles. This place is an old workshop area for French trains and every now and then one can see where the old rails used to run.
On my way to the Tilmans exhibition, I pass by work that catches my eye. The first is titled Ladies yet features young girls. The 30 year old photographer Cecile Decorniquet from Paris has posed her subjects as if they were grown up women from another much older era. There is comedy in this surrealistic approach yet one wonders at the children, none of whom look happy, as they act out the fantasies of others.
Another group of large photographs by Jean Noviel also attract me. These are fabricated landscapes created by fusing different photographs together to create unreal vistas. There is a Magritte-like sense of enjoyment here.
I stop also to look at photographs by Sarah Moon because I know the name; the images themselves are not so easy to decipher. They are sepia toned black and white prints but also some coloured ones. More of her work can be seen here
I have misunderstood Tilmans as being in gallery 19 instead of 16 so I go to see 4 exhibitions I would not otherwise have seen.
The first is black and white images of Mars made by an automatic camera used to record the surface of the planet. In the background there is some rather eerie music playing though it gets better with listening. In the entrance area to the main part of the exhibition are large black and white prints showing closeups of the planet while inside the main area, four giant screens reveal a slide show of the images. There are wonderful natural textures and although abstract in appearance, there are captions which detail the scenes we are presented with. The following is from the festival programme … “Valles Marineris, Olympus, Arcadia Planitia, Elysium Mons, Planum Boreum, Icaria Fossae andNoachis Terra are so many Martian regions flown over by the NASA space probe put into orbit in 2005 to study the planet’s surface. From among the tens of thousands images recorded, and possessing a resolution without precedent, Xavier Barral has extracted a series of photographs offering a completely new vision of this planet, whose unimaginable landscape has been taking shape for more than three billion years.” This was an exhibition worth seeing.
In the same section were three other exhibitions which did not appeal so greatly although Pieter Hugo’s “There is a place in hell for me and my friends” is a satirical look at racism in South Africa, a subject usually mired in seriousness yet here conveyed with humour. Hugo has made black and white prints from digital images and playing around with the RGB channels of colour as he does so to over-emphasise the red in the layer which makes the red or pinkish areas in his friends faces look black. He explains this in a letter placed near the images …