On Monday I visited LUMA Arles, the latest arm of The LUMA Foundation whose aims (according to their website) are ‘to support the activities of independent artists and pioneers, as well as institutions working in the fields of art and photography, publishing, documentary and multimedia.’ The team at LUMA Arles are in the process of creating an interdisciplinary cultural centre, housed in part in a new Frank Gehry creation. Once completed the building will house an auditorium, exhibition spaces, creation spaces (studios and workshops)and lots more besides. The whole 11 hectare site is based on the former Parc des Ateliers of the French rail network. Of the six existing industrial workshop buildings (shown above), five are being restored and converted into exhibition spaces by Selldorf Architects. The construction has been planned so that the Parc can remain open for summer exhibitions and the photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles, also organised by the LUMA Foundation. Below: The Réfectoire des Ateliers‘ rebar furniture and the strong, graphic construction site shapes and colours.
The Maison du Projet houses the fantastic Réfectoire des Ateliers and a huge exhibition space, with two fabulous models from Gehry’s studios in LA, a film about the architect and reading room. Below: Great typeface, great light, and a great idea.
Below: There is something about this image of Gehry’s LA studio that I really like… maybe its the chaos, maybe its the dream that one day I’ll have a studio as big as my house!
Below: The naked Gehry tower rises 56 metres over the streets below. Once clad in aluminium blocks the tower will provide a glittering entrance to the finished landscaped site.
If anyone out there is wondering why Arles?! The LUMA Arles website puts forward a pretty strong case – ‘Recognized as a cultural site since the Roman Empire, Arles has inspired artists including Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Arles was chosen as a World Heritage site thirty years ago and the Camargue is one of the most important natural sites in Europe, named a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.’
After the tour I decided to spend a couple of hours wandering through the city when this Camino de Santiago de Compostela marker caught my eye. I was fortunate enough to walk from St.Jean Pied de Port to Santiago during my gap year and have always wanted to complete a longer version of the GR route. Rome to Santiago maybe? Sounds pretty wonderful. I had lunch in one of Arles little parks where I was joined by a couple of schools taking advantage of the sunshine and picnic-ing outside. I love this. It would never happen in the UK.
UPDATE: On 7 July I went to Les Rencontres d’Arles BYOPAPER! Bring Your Own Paper! night which invites photographers to wheat paste their images all over the walls of a disused paper mill Papeteries Etienne (by pre-selection only).
I had such a good time I forgot to take any photos or even pay much attention to the images on show but below are a few flyers/artworks plastered around the city.