Un lieu de choix

Arles is a built palimpsest – the transitional result of two thousand years of construction and transformation. Today, the evocative Roman fragments, picturesque alleyways and presumed lightness of the Mediterranean lifestyle attract hordes of tourists. Since the turn of the millennium, global money and the international art market have given the little town an extra boost.

The extra muros borough of La Roquette has always been popular: fishermen and craftsmen, revolutionaries, World War II resistance fighters, gypsies, immigrants, artists. Nowadays, gentrification has taken over: The neighbourhood attracts affluent art and culture aficionados looking to spend the eve of their lives here, or to own a pied-à-terre.

The picturesque lanes have been embellished with pretty pavements. Behind the facades are more and more resi-dential condominiums, tastefully renovated by the neo-Arlesians. Many of them are rented out to tourists via internet booking platforms.

The urban landscape of La Roquette and the people who chose to live there were photographed with the eye of a tourist. They buy their daily bread at Jaouad Aaouine’s Fournil de la Roquette, walk their dog and have a few words with each other. Here, the Clash of Cultures takes on a friendly, inoffensive face.

The photographs were taken in the summer of 2023 in Arles, France, mostly in the borrough of La Roquette.

Robert Adams claims that «Landscape pictures can offer us, I think, three verities – geography, autobiography, and metaphor.» I am inclined to think that this also applies to portraits.

My gratitude goes to Yohanne Lamoulère, who shared her way how to portray strangers with humility, respect and yet determination. Thank you, Anne-Marie, Catherine, Ernst, Jaouad, Mark, Michel C., Michel F., Rosa, Sylvie and Poppy for your willingness and generosity to be part in this.

The photographs are being exposed in the online gallery of the Rencontres d’Arles, along with other series elaborated under the critical eye of Yohanne Lamoulère.