Arles is the home town of the only national level postgraduate photography course in France: that's at L'Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie. It turns out to be a historic building in the old town, surrounded by a high stone wall and classic high iron gates with painted bars. A fortress.
The annual FEPN - Festival Européen de la photo de nu - takes place in a number of venues around the town of Arles and there are also some events in nearby towns.
The title is in some ways the most intriguing part of the event, which lasts a week. The 2010 event was sponsored by Ilford photographic papers, giving a clue that many of the images are printed on black and white. To my eye, there wasn't a lot that would merit three stars in a Michelin guide rating, meaning "worth a trip". Definitely one star ("interesting") and maybe two stars "worth a detour").
Why disappointing? Like much contemporary art photography there was much symbolism but not much story-telling. That opens the whole discussion on what is art and what photography is about. But there wasn't much clear beauty either though plenty of apparently girlie sensuality and soft focus or soft light. I didn't see any pictures of athletes or "Greek gods". But the images on display were clearly "art" not "porn" because of the sensitivity to the nakedness of the subject; equally they were no more inviting or involving than pornography.
And yet again there were more striking imagery around on the commonplace advertising billboards than in the art gallery.
The other visitors were also "interesting": just who does visit an exhibition in France of pictures of nude photography. A mixed bunch, as it turned out but not a throng; possibly some academics, some photographers and maybe some enthusiasts of the genre. No-one really stood out from general tourists so maybe they were mainly general tourists who happened to be visiting that show that week. In that case, disappointing, like the exhibits.
So perhaps there's a case try to make some images that I consider more interesting and to submit them for another year...