Arles 2016: Street Photography

This was a case of the ‘old’ versus the ‘new’. My overall impression was that it was hard for the old street photography to grab the attention, against the new  boys, Eamon Doyle and Ethan Levitas whose work was presented in a modern fashion. As a Dubliner I empathiized totally with his view of the changing city of Dublin.He claimed that all of his images were made within 500m of his home in the inner city. The work was divided into three parts. The first part , “I”, showed the traditional Dubliner, of the inner city, going about his or her daily life. The second part, “ON”, demonstrated the changing face of Dublin. The people portrayed were of various ethnic backgrounds. Some of the images covered the huge walls and peered down at the spectator. The lady below just looked at the camera.

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Finally the third part of the exhibition is a collaborative piece. The images are by Eamonn Doyle, the music is by Niall Sweeney and the art work by David Donohue. For me Doyle’s work stands alone. He has no need to add anything since the images speak for themselves. This exhibition was one of the highlights of Arles, for me.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to take this image of my shadow reflected on one Doyles’s image.

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Sharing the same building with Doyle, Espace Van Gogh , is the work of Sid Grossman. The work is of its time but the exhibition was well divided into the different periods of Grossman’s life. I preferred his later work when he had more or less retired to Provincetown. His seagull series was especially moving. Harold Feinstein has written a tender memory of Grossman at this time (click). There was also some of Grossman’s student’s work on display.

Next it was on to the Gary Winogrand and Ethan Levitas exhibitions in the Grande Halle of the Parc des Ateliers. The former was Winogrand as we know and love him. Side by side with the very modern work of Levitas I felt he was a little dwarfed. I especially loved Levitas’ forbidden photographs. He had provoked situations where members of the law would not allow him to continue to photograph them, having already surreptitiously photographed them. The ‘missing’ images were represented by words in a blank or almost blank frame.

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Christian Marclay was presented in the same Grande Halle. He had been recommended to me by my tutor. He had two different installations. The first was a series of looping videos called Pub Crawl. Most of the video work was of ground level with the sounds of tin cans or bottles or glasses been kicked about the ground. It was spectacularly eerie.

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A still with my reflection on the video

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His second work was a series of stills, of a cigarette butt, made into a speeded up video. This was mesmerising even though it is silent. I tried to make a video of this work but it did not do justice to the original. Some of the work can be seen here in stills.

The final Street Photographer being exhibited was Peter Mitchell. Again the work is of its time, late 70’s early 80’s, of Leeds. I found the work drab and not inspirational.

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