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Michel Bouvet

The Rencontres d'Arles

4 July - 18 September

10H00 - 19H30

What vegetable is that? Which animal? What’s it all about? Michel Bouvet’s posters for the Rencontres d’Arles provoke hundreds of questions each year, which we are incapable of answering. When we needed to re-launch the Rencontres in 2002, we consulted some very grand graphic studios; the brief was to ‘ginger up’ the message. Michel Bouvet took us at our word and got the job.
But from the very first year confusion reigned. Instead of ginger, some interpreted it as a pimento, or a carrot; taxi-drivers in Arles would ask me what that loaf of corn bread was on the bus-shelters, and so it went on. But, in fact, what looked like being a total failure as far as the message was concerned turned out to be a marvellous topic of conversation and a good way of creating the buzz. So we decided to dig ourselves deeper into the absurd. Over the years we’ve moved out of the orchard and into the zoo, but Michel Bouvet’s method has stayed the same. We have to have the poster the autumn before the festival, even though the programme is far from complete. But Michel Bouvet insists that he can only design the thing if he knows what the programme is. This means that every year we embark on an enjoyable game of liar’s poker in which we give a totally imaginary programme to our favourite poster designer and he in turn comes back to us with twenty or so very pretty designs in coloured crayon, which have nothing to do either with each other or with the imaginary pro- gramme. Then the team and the President of the Rencontres go into the ritual of choosing which one is to be the visual for the year. Hypocritically, and slightly to reassure ourselves, even though our minds are already made up, we always ask ‘the opinion of the Michel Bouvet studio’. The answer is always evasive and gets everybody off the hook. Nonetheless, in our frustration at having to reject so many designs that we could have chosen every year, we plan to mark the tenth year under the new dispensation by sharing with the public all the proposed designs along with the process of creating the poster which in all its forms, from the catalogue to the mugs, has become the mascot of the Rencontres d’Arles.
François Hébel, director of the Rencontres d’Arles.
What vegetable is that? Which animal? What’s it all about? Michel Bouvet’s posters for the Rencontres d’Arles provoke hundreds of questions each year, which we are incapable of answering. When we needed to re-launch the Rencontres in 2002, we consulted some very grand graphic studios; the brief was to ‘ginger up’ the message. Michel Bouvet took us at our word and got the job. But from the very first year confusion reigned. Instead of ginger, some interpreted it as a pimento, or a carrot; taxi-drivers in Arles would ask me what that loaf of corn bread was on the bus-shelters, and so it went on. But, in fact, what looked like being a total failure as far as the message was concerned turned out to be a marvellous topic of conversation and a good way of creating the buzz. So we decided to dig ourselves deeper into the absurd. Over the years we’ve moved out of the orchard and into the zoo, but Michel Bouvet’s method has stayed the same. We have to have the poster the autumn before the festival, even though the programme is far from complete. But Michel Bouvet insists that he can only design the thing if he knows what the programme is. This means that every year we embark on an enjoyable game of liar’s poker in which we give a totally imaginary programme to our favourite poster designer and he in turn comes back to us with twenty or so very pretty designs in coloured crayon, which have nothing to do either with each other or with the imaginary programme. Then the team and the President of the Rencontres go into the ritual of choosing which one is to be the visual for the year. Hypocritically, and slightly to reassure ourselves, even though our minds are already made up, we always ask ‘the opinion of the Michel Bouvet studio’. The answer is always evasive and gets everybody off the hook. Nonetheless, in our frustration at having to reject so many designs that we could have chosen every year, we plan to mark the tenth year under the new dispensation by sharing with the public all the proposed designs along with the process of creating the poster which in all its forms, from the catalogue to the mugs, has become the mascot of the Rencontres d’Arles.

François Hébel, director of the Rencontres d’Arles.

Exhibition realised with the support of Gares & Connexions. Mounting and canvas by the Atelier Robin Tourenne, Paris. Framing by Circad, Paris.
Exhibition venue: Atelier de Maintenance, Parc des Ateliers.
Exhibition realised with the support of Gares & Connexions.
Mounting and canvas by the Atelier Robin Tourenne, Paris.
Framing by Circad, Paris.
Exhibition venue: Atelier de Maintenance, Parc des Ateliers.