Edition 2006


Chant / Contrechant : 1967-1970

“Gilles was leaving for Cambodia and I accompanied him to Le Bourget airport. That was the last time we saw him. He disappeared, doubtless taken prisoner by the Khmer rouges, but we’ll never know for sure. Gilles was important for me. He was one of the first photographers I met and we had long discussions about journalism and technique and professional philosophy.I knew Gilles and his family well. We didn’t realise what was happening to us, and all of sudden he just didn’t come back. For me he’s still one of the best photoreporters of that time, one of the fastest and most concerned. This is a pretty rare kind of exhibition, and McCullin’s friendship has been a great help. An interesting thing is that they both worked with a Nikon Reflex and both in colour and black and white, Gilles for Gamma and McCullin on assignment for the New York Times. McCullin arrived a few days after Gilles’s disappearance and when he got to the hotel he had a premonition that something had happened.”
Raymond Depardon
Chant / Contrechant :  1967-1970
 The exhibition presents in 40 photographs the parallel journey of two legendary photographers through the war zones of the late ’60s. One would lose his life. The other would join the ranks of history’s greatest war photographers.
For three years, beginning with the Six-Day War in June 1967, Gilles Caron and Don McCullin, preeminent photojournalists from France and Great Britain, respectively, found themselves in the same place -sometimes, at the same time- on no less than six occasions: in the Middle East, Vietnam, Biafra (Nigeria), Northern Ireland, Chad, and Cambodia. Fierce competitors, they were also friends with a great mutual respect.
Their shared trajectory would last only as long as the decade itself. On April 5, 1970, Caron set out one last time for the front, this time in eastern Cambodia. Six kilometers west of Chi Phu on Route 1, he and two other French journalists were captured by Khmer militia in the lethal region known as Parrot’s Beak. Caron, officially listed as a prisoner of war, was never heard from again, becoming the first of twenty journalists to be lost in Cambodia between April and May of 1970. He was thirty years old, and left behind a wife and two young daughters. McCullin arrived in Cambodia several weeks later. As he recounts, “I remember going into the Agence France-Presse office in Hotel Phnom and seeing Gilles’ valise in the corner, and I had a very sinister premonition that he would never come and collect that valise.”McCullin, wounded by shellfire several days later, would go on to photograph conflicts until the ’90s. Caron’s legacy, meanwhile, would extend far beyond his years, influencing peers such as filmmaker and photographer Raymond Depardon, with whom he founded the Gamma agency in 1967, and Robert Pledge, who co-founded Contact Press Images in 1976 - both of whom were imprisoned with Caron in Chad in February 1970 - as well as an entire generation of French “news photographers” of the seventies and eighties.
 Curator: Robert Pledge and Raymond Depardon. Robert Pledge, president of Contact Press Images, which represents the work of both photographers.

Exhibition coproduced by Contact Press Images and the Rencontres d’Arles. The Gilles Caron silver prints are the work of Jean-Christophe Domenech, La Chambre Noire, Paris. The Don McCullin silver prints are by the photographer. Gilles Caron and Don McCullin are represented by the Contact Press Images agency.

  • 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