This is another major issue of our time: the ecological cause. With photographers playing the role of whistleblowers and festivals at the forefront of climate issues, it is a whole sector that is today making its ecological transformation.

It is an image that one would readily describe as pastoral: in the middle of a lush green field, a man and a woman are standing, the woman brandishing a pitchfork. In caption: " The collective Sowers militates hands in the ground by cultivating fields on the passage of the way supposed to convey the radioactive waste to Bure ". This image is published on the Instagram account of Sandra Reinflet, whose work on the nuclear waste landfill project in Bure carried out as part of «Radioscopie de la France: regards sur un pays traverse par la crise sanitaire» will be featured in the exhibition “Images of Nature, Nature of Images”, specially designed for the Parliament of Photography.

Talking about photography at the time of the climate transition is primarily about the production of photographers who, through a posture that has nothing to envy to that of whistleblowers, make ecology the very reason for their creation. It is also, in the wake of the photographer Almudena Romero, winner in 2020 of the BMW residence for her project The Pigment Change presented at the Rencontres d'Arles in 2021, focus on the work of photographers and visual artists who propose new modes of existence of photography Almudena Romero’s project was based on both ecological awareness and the use of plant materials.

This will be the whole issue of the meeting «Photography and ecosophy» that will animate in tandem Michel Poivert, professor of history of contemporary art and curator, to whom we owe the sum published in 2019 by Textual, 50 years of French photography from 1970 to the present day, and Anne-Lou Buzot, head of the ENS Louis Lumière laboratory, specialist in anthotypes and alternative processes, editor and photographer.


Sector Engagement

An individual aspect of creation that reflects the commitment of the entire sector under the dual impetus of the Ministry of Culture. « On the one hand, as part of the roadmap on ecological planning entrusted by the government to all the ministries, on the other hand, as part of the specific plan of the Directorate-General for Artistic Creation on the ecological transition », says Pauline Guélaud, project manager for the artistic commission and referent of the working group «Environmental Challenges» to the Delegation for Visual Arts (DGCA) of the Ministry of Culture, guest of the round table entitled «eco-responsibility and ecological transition in photography and visual arts».

In this pact, a particular objective is coming to fruition, that of to board the structures to help them make their ecological transition However, says Pauline Guélaud, it is less about “ to take the subject from photography and to be inspired by the model of the performing arts and major festivals where the issue is very advanced, particularly through the sharing of experiences and means (waste, dishes, technical means, lighting, etc.). The idea is to observe these experiences and that they feed the visual arts sector ".

It is therefore out of the question to reinvent the wheel: it is a question of being attentive to specificities of photography ”. In this case, those of a medium comprising “ a heritage dimension that particularly raises the issue of conservation ” – “ conservation standards, including how they can meet environmental challenges, are well advanced ” – those of a medium, finally, which continues today to “repenser its production and dissemination through an eco-design approach to events ". 


The driving role of festivals and photographic institutions

Illustration with the Rencontres d'Arles, whose display modules and furniture have been designed according to a circular economy principle for more than twenty years. To note: since March 2022, the Rencontres d'Arles, which will be represented in the Parliament of photography by their deputy director, Aurélie de Lanlay, are members of the collective Festivals Eco-responsible and Solidaires (COFEES). Illustration also with the « festival networks ''. They exist in almost all regionssaid Pauline Guélaud. One of the pioneers is that of Brittany, which brings together festivals for all disciplines, including the visual arts sector, through the La Gacilly festival. We are already in a sharing of experiences and resources ".

Illustration side institutions with the Palais de Tokyo, host of the Parliament of photography, with its responsible patronage program «Sustainable Palace»; illustration finally with the Jeu de Paume which has just adopted an «Environmental Charter» through which the institution wishes nothing so much as design and implement a sustainable operating policy to reduce its environmental impact, both in its daily operation and in its artistic programming or in its economic model ». A charter that is divided into three axes: optimize its energy performance, eco-design its activities, promote green thinking. The eco-walls, designed for the exhibition «Frank Horvat. Paris, le monde, la mode” which opens on 16 June, will be its proud emblem in the coming months.