Rencontres d’Arles is full of amazing personalities: famous and not-so-famous photographers, gallery owners, museum curators, journalist, photography enthusiasts, contemporary art aficionados, bloggers, journal editors, professors of contemporary art history and book publishers. This year the OFF programme (those exhibitions that didn’t get to the official selection of the Rencontres d’Arles festival) or off OFF programme (those that have been created entirely independently) have been not less interesting than the main official programme.
The exhibition that impressed me the most this year, which I found most relevant and important was a show by a South African photographer, Gideon Mendel, entitled ‘Drowning World’: https://www.rencontres-arles.com/en/actualites/view/45/drowning-world-gideon-mendel The exhibition is devoted to the present and visible effects of flooding amplified by climatic change all around the world. Presenting the images from Brazil, Haiti, USA, UK, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, this exhibition is depicting the portraits of ordinary people affected by flooding usually captured when standing in the water of the flood. Visually arresting and calling for actions these images contribute to a changing discourse on climate change in the post Paris 2016 environment exacerbated by the decision of the US to exit the agreement. The recent news of the hurricanes hitting the Caribbean are making the topic ever more pertinent.
Image (c) Stanislav Shmelev (2017)