By Veronica

Arles: street scene

Busy day today! We were up by 8:30, and since the photo exhibitions don't open till ten, we started the day with a visit to Arles' vast Roman amphitheatre: it seats 20,000, far more than the population of the town at the time. Much of it was used as a quarry in the middle ages, and later houses were built inside it. So most of the upper parts are modern reconstructions -- since it is still actively used for events, including the Camargue version of bull-running -- competitors have to try and grab a rosette from between the bull's horns.

After that, it was a mixed day of photo exhibitions and other activities. We visited the exhibitions pretty much randomly. My absolute favourite was the Fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz, with a collaborative exhibition called Hope involving thirteen different photographers in different rooms of a large and semi-derelict house. The ground floor was based on a project involving refugees and local residents. Other sections covered a wide range: our absolute favourite was Russian social worker Dmitry Markov's candid slices of life: dozens of square-format photos (he started out using Instagram)  -- and every one told a little story. Superb. Later: ceridwen supplied this link -- do read it to find out more about Markov.

In another room there were some gut-wrenching photos of Syrians, and I also loved the exhibition of photos of Allende's Chile by John Hall, grouped into themes. In fact there was so much to see here that we had to leave for lunch and come back later in the day to see the rest of it.

When we were photo'ed out, other activities included a tapas lunch, a visit to the Van Gogh foundation (looking at paintings instead ...) and a tour of the Roman theatre, where we stumbled across yet another Roman. Later we saw some fighting in the street.

We ended the day at a rather exhausting venue with a very large exhibition of photos of Paris in May 1968, a complementary exhibition on Switzerland in 1968, and a rather dull collection of photos of prostitutes in Pigalle in the 1970s ("It's like someone showing you all of their holiday photos instead of just showing you the best," said S). Here we also bumped into a couple we know from Lézignan ... what are the chances? (quite high actually, we have many similar interests and often run into each other at events).

We were tired, so we returned to the hotel for a rest and then had a late dinner at La Gueule du Loup -- another very good meal, although the service was a bit chaotic. It took two hours for three courses, and would have been longer if S hadn't chivvied the waitress along after the main course. This resulted in her very promptly delivering our coffees, with the dessert arriving after we'd drunk them ...

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