opening week review Arles 2021

"We are very happy to have succeeded in building the 2021 festival while preserving the artistic program’s quality, diversity and breadth for the artists, photography players, public and above all the people of Arles and the entire area. Offering an international program during Covid has been a real challenge. We salute the support and commitment of the artists and curators, as well as all our public and private partners whom we thank here for their confidence. We would also like to thank all the festival’s teams, who have energetically worked with unstinting commitment and an incredible strength of imagination and proposal in this complicated context.

Like a rebirth, opening week allowed us to reconnect with the DNA of the Rencontres, where so many links are forged through the 35 exhibitions, many lively debates, meetings and photographic nights. The pleasure of meeting again is perceptible in the streets of Arles. We wish you beautiful encounters until September 26.”

Christoph Wiesner, director of the rencontres d’Arles, and Aurélie de Lanlay, deputy director

14,000 festival-goers from Sunday July 4 to Saturday, July 10
Overall attendance was down by 26% compared to 2019, when an outstanding program celebrated the festival’s 50th anniversary. 
Covid and travel restrictions prevented non-Europeans from coming this year. Nevertheless, international visitors, who made up 45% of festival-goers in 2019, still accounted for 20% in 2021. The number of French visitors remained stable.
Visitors preferred buying and booking their tickets online. Reservations have been registered throughout the summer until the festival ends on September 26. 
Some 10,000 festival-goers used the Arles 2021 app during opening week .

The venues chosen for this year’s festival offered different scenes and atmospheres reflecting the program’s diversity.
Exhibitions are held in historic places and heritage sites in the city center, the atelier de la Mécanique the parc des Ateliers, Monoprix and Croisière as well as several gardens. 
The Jardin des Voyageurs, which opened in 2019, hosts three shows this year. The Jardin d’été, located between boulevard des Lices and the Gallo-Roman Theater, is a festival venue for the first time.
The magnificent Jesuits’ chapel in the Museon Arlaten, also a new venue, just reopened after several years of renovation work. It hosts the Sabine Weiss exhibition.    

14,000 visitors 
35 exhibitions on the official program and 10 Grand Arles Express expositions
61 curators
200 artists
55 public events: round tables, panel discussions, tours conducted by artists and curators, book signings, etc.

Three exceptional evenings at the Théâtre Antique:
— Monday July 5 with a tribute to Sabine Weiss, winner of the 2020 Women In Motion Award for photography; presentation of the 2021 Women In Motion Award for photography to Liz Johnson Artur; presentation of the Book Awards; presentation of the project by Almudena Romero, the 10th BMW artist in residence; and a concert by the Bertrand Belin trio.
— Thursday July 8 with the presentation of the artists shortlisted for the ninth prix Pictet; presentation of the 2021 Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro Arles; presentation of the Red Cross photography collection; performance Désidération (Radio Levania); and for the first time, a photo slam organized by Antwaun Sargent, curator of the exhibition The New Black Vanguard.
— Saturday July 10 with the announcement of the winners of the Photo Folio Review, Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award, Louis Roederer Discovery Award and the Live Magazine des Rencontres.  

An evening of free documentaries about photography on Wednesday July 7 at Croisière organized by the Rencontres, which invited ARTE and the platform Tënk.


Kering and the Rencontres d’Arles presented the 2021 Women In Motion Award to the Russian-Ghanaian photographer Liz Johnson Artur. During the evening, she talked about her career, her work and the place of women in it before nearly 1,000 people. 
The Women In Motion Award for Photography is accompanied by the amount of €25,000 for the acquisition of works by the winning artist for the Rencontres d’Arles collection.    

This year, the 11 projects selected are considered as a single exhibition designed by curator Sonia Voss from selection to hanging. She and scenographer Amanda Antunes innovatively and eco-responsibly highlighted the emerging scene in a festival landmark, the Church of the Preaching Friars.

Winner: Tarrah Krajnak
For Rituals and Masters II: Weston’s Nudes
Proposed by the AS-IS.LA Gallery, Los Angeles, United States

Public Prize: Ilanit Illouz
For Wadi Qelt, dans la clarté des pierres
Proposed by MABA Fondation des artistes, Nogent-sur-Marne, France

Amount: €15,000 for the acquisition of works that will join the Rencontres d’Arles collection and €5,000 for the Public Prize  
With support from the Louis Roederer Foundation and Polka.  


Winner: Moe Suzuki
Pour Sokohi
Amount: €25,000
In partnership with the Luma Foundation.


Winner: The Idiot’s Delight
Photographs and texts: Duane Michals
Publisher: Editions Bessard
Graphic design: Sybren Kuyper
Amount: €6,000

special mention: John Cage: A Mycological Foray
Photographs: collective
Texts: Kingston Trinder and John Cage
Publisher: Ateliers Editions
Graphic design: Capucine Labarthe  


Winner: To Make Their Own Way in the World: The Enduring Legacy of the Zealy Daguerreotypes
Texts and photographs: collective
Publisher: Aperture Foundation & Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University
Graphic design: Duncan Whyte
Amount: €6,000

Special mention: 1839. Daguerre, Talbot et la publication de la photographie. Une anthologie
Texts: Steffen Siegel
Publisher: Macula
Graphic design: Schaffter Sahli  


Winner: Freedom Is Not Free
Photographer: Mashid Mohadjerin
Publisher: Royal Academy Fine Arts
Graphic design: Jelle Jespers
Amount: €6,000

Special mention: Whatever You Say, Say Nothin’
Photographer: Gilles Peress
Publisher: Steidl
Graphic design: Peress/Steidl    

The Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro-Arles is given to a female photographer whose work is shown at the festival.  

Winner: Eythar Gubara
Artist presented in the exhibition THWARA! RÉVOLUTION! Sudan, History of an Uprising 
Amount: €10,000 for the acquisition of works for the Rencontres d'Arles collection and a photography commission from Madame Figaro.

Nearly 80 people attended nine photography courses during opening week.
Almost 250 individuals will participate in 30 workshops until late September. Croisière will host pop-up shows presenting their work every Friday from July 16 to August 13 as well as on Thursday September 16 and Friday September 24.
Posted on 12.07.2021
  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture