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4 July 2013

Festival d’Avignon, by Stéphane Couturier & Frédéric Nauczyciel

The relations between photography and the Festival d’Avignon go back to the festival’s very first years and to the work of Agnès Varda, who contributed to forging the Avignon legend. Through her amazing ability to create, with the actors, images that allowed something of theatrical performance to be perceived, she offered us both the gaze of an artist on Jean Vilar’s work in the theatre and a singular trace of the festival’s beginnings. The power of her photos has etched the festival and its actors on the collective memory.

Today, the artists of the theatre and the stage arts open themselves up to other artistic forms to nourish their own creative work. The image, in particular, is often at the heart of the questions they ask themselves. What we wish to promote is the confrontation of forms, techniques, artists’ inventiveness and a multiplicity of points of view, convinced as we are that in this way the spectator’s experience will be enriched. It is in this state of mind that we have invited, over four consecutive years from 2007 to 2010, an artist working in photography to cast his or her gaze over an edition of the Festival d’Avignon, transforming it into a subject to be revealed in a different way and each time with a different theme: the public, the actor, memory and, then, scenography. This project was supported by the Centre National des Arts Plastiques, through its system of public commissions.

François Hébel has chosen to show two of these gazes: that of Frédéric Nauczyciel on the public and that of Stéphane Couturier on the festival’s architecture and scenography. In July 2007, Nauczyciel created a series of large format, black and white photos called Public (Those Who Look at Us), capturing the presence of spectators and the duration of a performance. In 2010, Couturier created a large format series called Meeting Point – Avignon that depicts the transformation of Avignon sites, from heritage monuments to theatres, from the rehearsal to the performance.

Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller, directors of the Festival d’Avignon

Exhibition produced by the Festival d’Avignon, the Centre de Photographie d’Île-de-France and the Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Besançon. Stéphane Couturier’s series has been lent by the Centre National des Arts Plastiques.

Exhibition venue: Cloître Saint-Trophime, 1st floor, Rencontres d’Arles 2013.