Contrejour, A French Assertion

Contrejour, A French Assertion

This exhibition is dedicated to the adventure of Contrejour, which drastically changed the French publishing landscape of the 1970s. It was an adventure carried along by the movement of a new spontaneous, nonconformist and committed kind of photography that proposed to lay the foundations of a genuine autonomous language.
The exhibition also pays homage to Contrejour’s founder, Claude Nori, himself a photographer, who for almost fifteen years and through more than 150 publications, allowed a number of – until then – unknown authors to publish books and monographs, thus contributing to the shaping of photography as art, the way we conceive it today.

In the 70s, Claude Nori was contacted by many photographers and reporters of his generation, who wanted to express themselves by showing their photographs. Driven by their energy and enthusiasm, an idea took shape for a nonconformist review, followed by a publishing house that would hand the word and images over to all those artists who’d decided to make photography a genuine philosophy of life and a new way of making art.

No critical tradition existed at the time. In this almost institutional desert, a generation of photographers searching for an identity tossed around current ideas, burned bridges with film and literature, turned their backs on traditional photo-journalism and in a spontaneous momentum produced a liberating art that was closer to people, which found, thanks to books, an original creative space and a means of mass distribution..
Contrejour rapidly became a hub and assured the dissemination of ideas and discussions centred on art photography before institutions and the photography market got themselves organised. Contrejour review, a provocative underground journal, with its vital ‘Dégrafez vos paupières’ (Unzip your eyelids) column, welcomed in its pages the writing of critics and historians.
Surrounded by a team of professionals, Claude Nori indefatigably exerted himself to assure artists maximum visibility. He organised exhibitions and events to accompany his books, and played an indisputable role of cultural agitator to impose this new, constantly evolving photography.

The exhibition recreates the particular atmosphere of this period of creativity and discovery when everything seemed allowed and possible. It situates the context of the creation of Contrejour, highlights the main publications over almost twenty years and presents the photographs of the artists that count in Contrejour’s history.

July 2 – September 23, 2012
During Les Rencontres d’Arles

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