Sunday, 13 September 2009

So what about the shows in Perpignan?

Exhibition goers at Eugene Richards' 'War is personal', Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

Next year I will definitely try to go and see all the exhibitions, we missed some of them and sadly we didn't make it to a single one of the talks that were given by various photographers. It is difficult when you go to these places though; you need to strike a balance of trying to enjoy your holiday, make the most of the exhibitions and also the city itself, socialise and have fun, outside all of the industry hullabaloo. It is also quite easy to over do it, there's only so many harrowing stories you can take in before your mind goes numb.

Of the exhibitions we saw, 'War is personal' by Getty photographer Eugene Richards is one of the stand outs. Centred around wounded US soldiers after their return from duty, it is a very simple show, nothing fancy, just uncomplicated images and a wonderful presentation of large captions from relatives and carers, giving a strong voice to the people in the images, something that was often lacking elsewhere in the shows.

It was telling to see that hardly a word was spoken by the large crowd when we went. It was absorbing, and the viewers seemed to be really moved by the images and the words, watching in hushed silence. You felt a kind of respectfulness in Eugene's work, something which was reflected in us as we took it all in in silence. You can find a BJP interview here.

Tattooed gang member in prison by Miquel Dewever-Plana in his exhibition 'The other war', Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

Another good exhibition was Miquel Dewever-Plana (again a BJP interview here) of Agence VU, with images of Guatemala's gang members inside prisons and with the police on the violent streets, where a human life is worth next to nothing, a country stuck in an endemic cycle of violence.

Obama with his feet up from Callie Shell's exhibition 'Barack Obama', Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

TIME photographer Callie Shell also had a great show of Obama's journey to the presidential seat, three years in the making, showing the man we all love to love. See the whole essay online here.

One of the funniest shows was 'Only in America' by French photographer Francois le Diascorn. Humorous B&W images from the US, circa 1960 onwards, with a gentle touch an and almost Cartier-Bresson-like quality to them, but sadly I didn't take any pictures in there.

The giant screen at Place de la Republique, Perpignan, 2009. © Magnus Andersson

The one thing we didn't miss was the slide show held every night for the duration of the professional week. You could either watch it live in the stands of Campo Santo, enabling you to take in the booming voice of Jean-Francois 'the general' Leroy, or you could opt for a live transmission in the main square; Place de la Republique. We went for the latter and this meant we could also have dinner and a drink at the same time, watching the slide show on a screen at least 30m wide. Great stuff!

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