Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the press conference of the 41st edition of the Rencontres d'Arles Photographie (which will take place from 3 July to 19 September 2010)

Mr Minister, Mr President, Dear Jean-Noël JEANNENEY,
Dear Luis URETA SAENZ PEÑA, Ambassador of Argentina to France,
Dear Mayor Hervé Schiavetti,
Dear François HEBEL,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,
So it’s kind of like a family photograph with a self-timer that we
are doing together today, since we are launching in advance, to
the end of March, a great event expected next summer, the
the famous Rencontres d'Arles, which will already be held in their 41st edition.
still have a few months to put us all in front of
the goal…
This kind of advent calendar of the festival is not a mere coquetry of
communication. Its aim is to highlight the diversity of the
for which I warmly congratulate François HÉBEL. But she
also aims to ask clearly the questions that the photograph must face in
the contemporary world, and already, to sketch some answers that we
can do so, modestly, but with determination. These answers, they
are necessarily and even strongly linked to the French, European and
world of photography that the city of Arles has become over time. They
are necessarily linked to its “Meetings” which are the highlight, that of
the time when everything accelerates and, in a snapshot, we have at the same time a
precise vision of the vitality of the world of photography.
The great upheaval that challenges this field, as well as most
activities and cultural industries, it is of course the digital revolution, that I have
identified as the nodal point of my conception and action at the heart of the
culture and communication.
This is the case for books, journalism as a whole and
especially for photojournalism, this is the case for our heritage
our moving images, and this is obviously and almost more so
for photography: digitization marked a border crossing and
the entry into a new paradigm both technological and aesthetic, and even
ethics. It induces a radical metamorphosis of our relationship to the image, the
the behavior of photographers and our behavior as spectators.
This digital revolution exerts its influence both on heritage and on
photographic creation.
It urges us to respond to both the challenge of conservation and valorization
of our funds, that is to say, to rethink the very order of them, in the manner of these
new rankings that still signal that epistemological and
have been passed. I know that Jean-Noël JEANNENEY, the new
President of the Rencontres, where he succeeds the excellent François BARRÉ, is very
sensitive to this improbable and fruitful "concordance of times" between
the photographer’s snapshot and the historian’s cherished “long term”.
Well, I see two answers to these challenges.
The first is of course to create a forum for debate and exchange, a forum for
the antique, a photographic agora, and fortunately this one already exists. It
will present this year in the form of six “walks”, which are,
moments of meditation and discovery, in the manner of the
philosophers of antiquity or in the manner of wanderings at the same time
of the inhabitants of the former cloisters… To the profusion of
images in the contemporary world in the digital age, the Rencontres d'Arles
respond by the profusion, but especially by the quality of the events:
white» and dark rooms, silver walks and «argentinian» visions
of course, on the occasion of the bicentenary of independence of this great friend country, whose
I am delighted that he is this year’s guest of honour.
The second answer is also, quite naturally, in Arles. It is intended
emblematic of an intelligent cultural decentralization, adapted to the
resources and the genius of places. In my cultural activity in the regions, I have in fact
the intention to cross two types of approach: on the one hand a proactive approach,
that of a “culture for everyone” that will carry culture where it is least expected, there
where we want it more, like the future Louvre in Lens, like the Centre Pompidou in
Metz that we will inaugurate in early May, as the installation of part of the
National Archives in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, in this part of the Grand Pari(s) in
value what “9-3” is… But on the other hand, I don’t think we should neglect too
the logic of poles, made necessary by globalization, that is to say a logic
visibility and concentration of forces on the emblematic sites of a
That is why, as you can imagine, I expect a lot from this cross between
the snapshot of the Meetings and the long duration of the projects I have already mentioned:
creation of a heritage pole that could gather the archives of photographers
who built the history of photography. I said a word about it during the last
Meetings: this project I want to set up is the right way to
resist the destabilizing tendencies of globalization, by anchoring our archives
in this territory that is in some way dedicated to him. I will have
the opportunity to clarify its contents, alongside local authorities and the
LUMA Foundation, during the Meetings next July.
It is also to meet the major joint challenges of digital, heritage,
the photographic creation but also the photojournalism that I wanted
set up a mission for photography, which will be directly to me
I have entrusted it to Daniel BAROY and Manuel BAMBERGER, who will
task of thinking about the best solutions and their implementation.
On the one hand, it will organize the continuation of the identification of photographic collections
and will propose a coherent national approach to these funds, which will
access and retention. It will set out procedures for
public collections development – notably through the creation of a
ad hoc gift and bequest commission.
On the other hand, it will be responsible for devising a digital broadcasting policy for
these funds, and will ensure that their inventory is homogeneous at the national level, in order to
the best possible use of it. The Great Loan, for which my
ministry – that is to say all of us – has obtained no less than 750 million euros,
allows us to think big and have the means of our ambitions
in this crucial area of digitalisation.
I have asked my Directorate-General for Creation that a special effort evening
in favour of the public commission for photography, on a
a generous field that ranges from fine arts to photojournalism and
documentary photography.
Finally, the mission will accompany an exhibition policy that will be part of the
continuity and development of the remarkable action already undertaken by the Museum
under the judicious and inspired chairmanship of Alain-Dominique
PERRIN and the brilliant management of Marta GILI. In Paris as in the region, in Tours, in
Perpignan, in Cherbourg, it will allow, thanks to a better readability, to touch a
wider public: in this area too, Arles, by its notoriety, its history
and its influence, is expected to play a major role.
This mission will start now, working groups will be
set up in the coming days and will open the dialogue between
representatives of public institutions and professionals, to clarify the
different construction sites by summer.
As regards Arles in particular, I hope that a
regular consultation between the State services, the Meetings, the National School
Superior Photography (ENSP) and local authorities, very involved in
strategies for the future of this School and in the creation of the Archives and
conservation, and I thank them very much.
Our approach is and must be partnership: it is my method, founded not
only on the preliminary reflection (as is also the case in the file
Google), but also on this indispensable cooperation, on the one hand between the State and the
local authorities, on the other hand between public authorities and the private sector.
I rely heavily on the commitment of patrons and in particular on the
LUMA Foundation of Maja HOFFMANN, whom I warmly thank for her
generous and creative support. His remarkable project, the fruit of the work of
that she knew how to gather around her, will find in the architectural realization of
Franck GEHRY the framework for its future deployment.
The work that awaits us is vast; it is, I repeat, long-term,
which is that of political action. I know that the resounding success of the
is a capital asset, an irreplaceable lever. We will not be able to
safe, with a single photographic or digital click, solve all issues
the complex world of photography, photographers and
holders of funds, nor fulfill all the expectations of passionate amateurs who
desire – and this is a great opportunity – to know better the richness of our
heritage and see them made accessible to everyone. But know that it is with
determination that I work, with my firm, my services and all the
partners, so that photography takes full advantage of the wealth brought by
digital transformation, while retaining what makes it its irreducible specificity – this
which I will call the “photographic exception”.
Finally, I would like to thank François BARRÉ warmly for his work
President of the Conference. His experience and
unanimously recognized expertise contributed to the reflection undertaken by the Mayor
d'Arles, Hervé SCHIAVETTI, to build – with the State, the Provence-
Alpes-Côte d'Azur, the Conseil général des Bouches du Rhône and the Ecole Nationale de
Photography – the foundations of this future pole of conservation and reflection
which I was referring to a moment ago. I’m sure Jean-Noël
JEANNENEY will nourish this reflection with the brilliance that everyone knows him, in the
continuity, but also by bringing its own personality and vision.
I also thank François HÉBEL for tirelessly bringing all his
commitment and all his competence at the service of photography,
photographers and, of course, more and more diverse audiences,
connoisseurs and amateurs in the full sense of the word. All now form this
extended family, which meets today just a few months before the opening of
these 41st Rencontres d'Arles, to prepare its future while waiting for the reunion
summer parties.
I now give the floor to the Director to give us his presentation
programming, a taste of the album of images that we will be able to