Photography Blog

 Arles is the home town of the only national level postgraduate photography course in France: that's at L'Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie. It turns out to be a historic building in the old town, surrounded by a high stone wall and classic high iron gates with painted bars. A fortress.

The annual FEPN - Festival Européen de la photo de nu - takes place in a number of venues around the town of Arles and there are also some events in nearby towns.

The title is in some ways the most intriguing part of the event, which lasts a week. The 2010 event was sponsored by Ilford photographic papers, giving a clue that many of the images are printed on black and white. To my eye, there wasn't a lot that would merit three stars in a Michelin guide rating, meaning "worth a trip". Definitely one star ("interesting") and maybe two stars "worth a detour"). 

Why disappointing? Like much contemporary art photography there was much symbolism but not much story-telling. That opens the whole discussion on what is art and what photography is about. But there wasn't much clear beauty either though plenty of apparently girlie sensuality and soft focus or soft light. I didn't see any pictures of athletes or "Greek gods". But the images on display were clearly "art" not "porn" because of the sensitivity to the nakedness of the subject; equally they were no more inviting or involving than pornography. 

And yet again there were more striking imagery around on the commonplace advertising billboards than in the art gallery.

The other visitors were also "interesting": just who does visit an exhibition in France of pictures of nude photography. A mixed bunch, as it turned out but not a throng; possibly some academics, some photographers and maybe some enthusiasts of the genre. No-one really stood out from general tourists so maybe they were mainly general tourists who happened to be visiting that show that week. In that case, disappointing, like the exhibits.

So perhaps there's a case try to make some images that I consider more interesting and to submit them for another year...

There was more heavy rain in Brighton on Sunday morning plus lots of wind. We went to Maurice (of Fetters) in Rotttingdean who has a flat directly overlooking the Channel, which was doing its impersonation of the north Atlantic.

But the storm had passed over by early afternoon and I was able to see some of the photographs on show from at the Brighton Photo Fringe. You might find it of interest to see on line though you miss the impact of the physical prints and the discomfort of the cold wet display locations: the links are on my page at Brighton Photography links

I came away with mixed impressions, some positive (like seeing real photo prints rather than inkjet prints) but an awful lot of what was on display there leaves me cold. Either I'm not getting something or the Emperor has no clothes.

Anyhow it's all new information and food for thought so it was worthwhile,

There's a parallel with the audio stuff, the memory that has remained with me is not of  he dozens of political images stapled on walls in an otherwise disused department store, more some finely crafted black and white prints of photographs of the South Downs which are the record of some student's forays up there. Analogue and finely crafted rather than digital and disposable. The images themselves are not all that memorable but the care and work that went in to them is clearly apparent, the quality of the image is appealing and the result both memorable and has a beauty. Now how do I get to do that...

Robert Mapplethorpe in Eastbourne! Who'd have thought the South Coast town would put on an exhibition of photos by New York City’s Bad Boy gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe! But that's saying more about my own preconceptions about Eastbourne as a town for the retired: "Dover for the continent Eastbourne for the incontinent".

Read more: Mapplethorpe in Eastbourne!