Les Rencontres d’Arles, formerly known as the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles, is a summer photography festival founded in 1970 by Arles photographer Lucien Clergue, author Michel Tournier and historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette.
The Rencontres d’Arles’ policy of programming, almost exclusively consisting of new work, has earned a world-wide reputation welcoming over 100,000 visitors last year.
The exhibitions, often co-produced with both French and foreign museums and institutions, are given on various heritage sites, suitably stage-designed for the purpose. Some sites, for example, 12th century chapels or 19th century industrial buildings, are open to the public only for the duration of the festival.
Many photographers have been discovered as a result of the Rencontres; a sure sign of the festival’s importance as a springboard for photographic and contemporary creative talent.
For its depth and reach the programme draws on the points of view of numerous specialists – around twenty each year – from different fields. Sometimes part of the programming is entrusted to an artist, examples including Martin Parr in 2004, Raymond Depardon in 2006, Arles-born couturier Christian Lacroix in 2008 and Nan Goldin in 2009.