I had a great time in Arles this year. Most of us have likely read the reviews by now, and while the “In” festival may have been underwhelming, Arles was, as always, a great place to network and spend time with people I don’t often get to see in person.
And the “off” festival is getting bigger and better every year. This year I decided to continue in Arles, the work I began last October during les Rencontres Photographiques du 10e in Paris.
So on most nights, after vernissages, dinners, projections, and parties, I took my broom and bucket out and pasted up my street exhibition in the off-off festival. In the process, I met Isabelle Chapuis and Alexis VI, who were pasting up (with admirable precision) their series Blossom (love it) and watched the evolution of Delphine Henry and her group’s series “Parade,” titled after François Hebel’s name for this years festival. I loved the silent collaboration, placing my work among theirs.
Ironically, a few years ago, when I showed an early version of DesCollages (before it had this name) in the portfolio reviews, one of my reviewers advised that I never show this work again, ever. It may sound brutal and I won’t go the details of the consequent discussion we had, but he was genuinely enthusiastic about one body of work and decidedly less so about this one. And while I had several other very positive responses to this work, his rejection of it hit me rather hard.
Just before leaving for Arles this year, I remembered our conversation and it made me laugh to think of what I was doing with this series now. Then, I admit, I had a moment’s pause and asked myself the healthy question, “am I crazy?” But I knew I wasn’t. You cannot please everyone, and trying to do so is a loser move, as my mother would say, so you must check in with yourself to know your path forward and focus on the task at hand. And find the right people to guide you when needed. I appreciated this person’s honesty, and understood it just wasn’t meant for him.
I offer this story because it can be challenging to know what to take away from a series of portfolio reviews with so many different opinions and suggestions. All I can say is be bold and keep going in the direction that makes your heart beat faster.
It seems to me that these photos ask to be shared in this way. It’s a natural step in the process. And in giving them this freedom, I am also liberated.
I don’t imagine these photos will live long lives in the streets of Arles. Let me know if you see them hanging around.