The past sixteen years, since the creation of the Boutographies, have given rise to an encounter with new talents, to debates and comparisons with the world of European contemporary photography in all its aspects. Throughout this fertile period of discovery, the Boutographies have affirmed their project, based on a simple and ambitious responsibility: to show what the most contemporary creative photography is proposing. This is expressed by a particular attention paid to the way images are created, to represent and give shape to what fills and accompanies our lives, more than to the events themselves, essentially elusive.
The programme for 2017 offers a wide display of the ways the photographic image has been considered and constructed by the most talented of the more than six hundred photographers who presented their work this year. Some have approached the image from a point of view primarily physical – odours, sounds, and non-figurative perceptions – images which, by refusing all allusion, evoke a greater imaginative or symbolic power. Christelle Boulé, Eun Chun and Jannemarein Renout have taken this route. The other artists presented on the walls or in projection are closer to a more traditional approach, but no less attentive to sensitivity, a human presence and a relationship to a given space. Ali Mobasser and Sandra Mehl, who we are delighted to welcome for her first important exhibition in her home town, observe the presence of individuals for whom they have a close attachment, in a relationship full of curiosity, empathy and questioning. With Zoé Van Der Haegen and Flaminia Celata (Fotoleggendo Echange Prize 2016), nature carries the memory of a human presence that intervenes in the forms, material and substance, even before exercising its power over the imagination. Alban Lécuyer offers a more documentary proposition, with his portrait of a town, Phnom Penh, which seems to want to exorcise the events of its near disappearance as an entity under the regime of the Khmer Rouge. As for Jennifer Niederhauser-Schlup, if her series is constructed like a narrative, it is to underline its imaginary character and to remind us of photography’s capacity to nourish the imagination by an irresistible “temptation of reality”. Olga Stefatou, Ikuru Kuwajima and Demetris Koilalous take us along routes and bye-ways: those that lead us towards our origins, and those who’s trace is both fragile and immemorial. In all three cases, the voyages represented by the photographers are seen as difficult and necessary tests to confront their own burdens, their own bonds, and moments of self-domination, which enable them to continue to exist, elsewhere.
The Orient, whether it be the Near or Far East is particularly present in this 2017 selection. Ikuru Kuwajima is Japanese, but lives in Moscow. Eun Chun is a Korean from Paris; Ali Mobasser is of Iranian origin, living in London. Olga Stefatou, Greek, studied in Beijing. Demetris Koilalous comes to us from Greece itself, that is to say the most south-easterly part of Europe. Alban Lécuyer shows us a Cambodia in full reconstruction. At a moment when the West is racked with profound doubts and a political climate of regression not seen for decades, our attention was captured by these perceptions come from afar, along with those who, more close to home, continue to liberate the terrain of photographic expression with their diverse sensitivities and an inexhaustible inventiveness.
For the Boutographies team
A festival to enhance Montpellier’s reputation!
The festival of European Photography – The Boutographies is one of the symbols of Montpellier’s artistic success. Started 16 years ago by a group of photographic enthusiasts, the festival has progressed methodically to arrive today at an exceptional level of recognition, both in France and abroad. We are delighted this year to welcome the festival back to the Pavillon Populaire, an artistic venue dedicated to photography by the Town of Montpellier.
The reputation of the Pavillon Populaire is already well established internationally among the professionals and attracts a public above and beyond regional frontiers. The festival of European Photography – The Boutographies, whose fundamental purpose is to reveal new talents, nurtures our desire to make photography, and art in general, a key element in our cultural policy. As such, we are particularly happy that this year two artists from Montpellier are among the selection. One of whom, Sandra Mehl, exhibited last year at the Espace Saint-Ravy. This is symbolic of our ability to allow young artists to move up from the walls of Saint-Ravi to those of the Pavillon Populaire!
We are proud to actively support this team and this project. Proud also of their success and of the enthusiasm they engender among young European creators! More than 650 applications were received, for a selection of a dozen artists. There can be no doubt as to the success of this manifestation. The work undertaken, with the professionals and the public at large, is a major vector in the Town of Montpellier’s dynamic in the photographic domain. As such, the Town of Montpellier wishes to develop a photographic strong point on its territory, around the festival. Therefore, in addition to the Botographies’ partners, who open their galleries and exhibition spaces for the duration of the festival, the Espace Saint-Ravi will also be associated, with an exhibition by the Artplusplus collective.
Our ambition is effectively to valorise emerging artists in accompanying them at the Espace Saint-Ravi with the aim of guiding them towards eventual exhibitions in prestigious locations, to afford them a consequent recognition. It is also our aspiration to offer visitors the possibility to discover all the forms of art, classic, contemporary or photographic, whether it be at the Pavillon Populaire, the Musée Fabre, the Panacée, the Carré Sainte-Anne or the Espace Dominique Bagouet.
We wish each one of you to be captivated by the work of these European talents, to travel with them to the frontiers of the photographic art and that, faithful adepts or new visitors, to continue for many years yet to want to cross the threshold of the Pavillon Populaire in this month of May.
Mayor of Montpellier
President of Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole
Town Councillor with responsibility for cultural projects