Why Exhibit in Arles?

As we draw to the end of the first month of this year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles, we look at why exhibiting in Arles is so beneficial for photographers

Our very first OpenWalls exhibition will be held next year in Arles. We are looking for up to 50 photographers to exhibit as part of a month-long group show at Galerie Huit Arles during Les Rencontres d’Arles 2019. The exhibition is calling photographers to respond to the theme Home and Away, with images capturing a sense of escapism, belonging or identity. But why is exhibiting in Arles such an important rite of passage for photographers?

“The opening week of Les Rencontres d’Arles summer festival attracts the Who’s Who of the photography world,” explains Julia de Bierre, the owner of Galerie Huit Arles, and an OpenWalls judge. “They all descend on Arles to participate in this extraordinary celebratory event.” Photo editors, curators, gallery owners and photography dealers all head to Arles not only to see works by old masters, but also to poach undiscovered talent, looking to the coinciding Voies Off festival, as well as independent galleries and street artists, to commission new work. The festival also yields a huge amount of media attention, this year receiving coverage from the likes of The Guardian, The Telegraph, ArtNet and LensCulture, alongside a host of international publications.

Galerie Huit Arles

Galerie Huit Arles’ central location is perfect for drawing the leading names in photography to peruse its illustrious walls. Set near the town’s crumbling Roman amphitheatre, one of Arles’ spotlight locations, the gallery attracts visitors from around the world

This year, OpenWalls judge Daniel Miller was in Arles during the festival, exhibiting work represented by YourDailyPhotograph.com, and looking for new photographers whose images he could bring to the initiative. YourDailyPhotograph.com is a daily email, sent to over 8,000 subscribers worldwide, among them serious photography collectors looking to add to their collections. “We are always on the hunt for extraordinary works to present to our collectors,” says Daniel. And Arles is the perfect place to look. With photographers from all over the world pasting their work to the walls, and ad hoc venues being turned into makeshift galleries, there are miles of untapped potential.

© Bryony Fraser

OpenWalls Arles is the first in our OpenWalls awards series, aimed at creating opportunities for emerging and established photographers to exhibit their work in reputable and extraordinary locations worldwide. By collaborating with respected galleries around the world, we are able to open up the walls of otherwise exclusive spaces, to offer artists a wider platform from which to exhibit their work.

Arles was our first, and most obvious, choice for the award. Launched in 1970 by French writer Michael Tournier, photographer Lucien Clergue and curator Jean-Maurice Rouquette, the festival is the world’s biggest and best-respected photography event. In 2016, it broke a record, with more than 100,000 visitors coming to Arles during the festival. Next year will be Les Rencontres d’Arles’ 50th edition, and it is expected to reel in more visitors than ever. Make sure your work is there.

For your chance to exhibit your work on this international stage, enter OpenWalls, your invitation to Arles.