DAY 5 – Friday July 6, 2007


  See the video of Day 5

The Abbaye de Montmajour is a short 10-minute drive north east of Arles. Built in the 10th century by Benedictine monks, this abbey has endured a colorful history and is today a world heritage monument recognized by UNESCO.

Abbaye de Montmajour. © Neil Atherton

As well as a fantastic opportunity to visit the monastic buildings, including the ascent to the top of the Pons d’Olmes watchtower offering splendid views of the surrounding countryside, the abbey hosts each year exhibitions that form part of the festival. This year, two exhibits are on show.

Montmajour's crypt. © Neil Atherton

The Zuber Studio exhibition is formed around the group of photographers who were acquainted with René Zuber, who ran the photographic department at the Damour Agency in Paris. During the between-war years this group of friends shared their lives and their photographic ideas. Camping trips, hiking, swimming in lakes, sports activities in the countryside… their black and white photographs reveal their collective approach to photography, which became an important factor in the French revival of photography in the 1930s. Their pictures were widely published in weekly magazines such as Voila, Vu and Regards.

View from Montmajour's tower. © Neil Atherton

The second exhibit is of German photographer Walter Roil’s pictures of Patagonia. Roil documented the daily life around him during his extended stay in Argentina after opening his studio there in 1934. To appreciate Roil’s work it is important not to forget the difficulty of working in a land where wind-driven clouds produce an endlessly changing light and where the bright sunlight relentlessly flattens the contours of the landscape.

Martin Parr. © Neil Atherton

Martin Parr is undoubtedly one of the stars of contemporary photography. As an unlikely member of the Magnum agency, the English photographer’s hyper-kitsch and ultra-saturated pictures have seen him produce a remarkable body of work that has seen him create a unique style that is immediately recognizable.

Martin Parr's slideshow. © Neil Atherton

Today, he presents a slideshow of his work, taking the 300 capacity audience through a humorous and entertaining history of his oeuvre. He also reveals his new book ‘Parking Spaces’ a typically Parrian concept of photographing empty parking spaces around the world.

Martin Parr's Self-portraits book. © Neil Atherton

The highlight of the day, if not the entire festival, is during the Q&A when one of the audience members asks him to pose for a picture like the musclebound ‘self-portrait’ projected behind him. When another member of the audience jokingly suggests that Parr takes off his shirt to really resemble the picture, he willingly complies and strips off to rapturous applause and laughter! Here’s the video…


The Night of the Year is when the whole of Arles takes to the streets of the Roquette neighborhood and revels in the after-dark projection of hundreds of photographs. From inside churches and old theatres to outside bars and cafés, the streets are alive with images and sound.

The Night of the Year. © Neil Atherton

The main projections are instigated by major agencies and publications. Rapho/Gamma, Elle Magazine, Reuters, Corbis, Libération, Courrier International, World Press Photo... all vying for the public's attention.

Crowds at the Night of the year. © Neil Atherton

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