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Marco Walker and Clement Jolin lead Arles visitors on a photographic treasure hunt

Courtesy of Marco Walker and Clement Jolin, <em>Arles Secret Show</em>
Courtesy of Marco Walker and Clement Jolin, Arles Secret Show

Visitors to the French city of Arles may have noticed some colourful additions to its streets this month.

Photographer Marco Walker and Clement Jolin have mounted a series of surreal collages onto the walls of the city – known for its UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed Roman monuments, and for inspiring van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

With images ranging from dolphins leaping over modernist homes to mountain peaks framed by chintz curtains, passerby are in for a surprise.

The Arles Secret Show – timed to coincide with the launch of Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival earlier this month – is accompanied by an online map, allowing visitors to track down the photograph’s locations. ‘It’s a visual treasure hunt through the streets of the city,’ Walker explains.

This treasure trail also extends to Instagram. Upload four photographs of the show and you’ll earn yourself a signed print.

We spoke to Walker and Jolin about using the streets as a gallery.

Why did you decide to do a street display of your work instead of a gallery exhibition?
We’ve been coming to Les Rencontres d’Arles for years and we love the beauty and size of this World Heritage Site. We wanted to create a show where the audience could interact with the images that they see and the small alleyways around the historic square of Place de forum (where van Gogh and Cézanne spent time) seemed the perfect location for this.

Both of us grew up pre-internet, so we’ve had the experience of both the analogue and digital worlds. We liked the idea of a concept bridging both: of putting beautiful prints up on a wall, but at the same time using Instagram to share and discover them. For us, it’s good to see photography and art in new ways and it’s important to make it accessible to everyone.

You created the show to coincide with Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival. Why did you want to break out of the photo expo programme?
There’s an influx of photographers and photo enthusiast from around around the world every summer to attend Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival. But too much money and politics is involved in photo fairs. We thought it would be great to show the work publicly and see the reaction from people.

What’s the theme at the heart of the collages?
My images all reference the home, or the idea of looking through spaces. Clement’s are part of a series called Synesthesia, which he showed last year at Mobilab Gallery in Switzerland.

Marco Walker collage
Courtesy of Marco Walker, Arles Secret Show

How long will the exhibition last?
As long as they aren’t removed by the local council, most of the images should stay up on the walls of the town throughout the summer and possibly longer.

We plan on taking this concept to other cities around the world. Watch this space…

‘Arles Secret Show’ is on now until it lasts



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