At the La Gacilly Photo Festival, environmental photography in the spotlight

At the La Gacilly Photo Festival, environmental photography in the spotlight

Every year, as summer approaches, images bloom in the alleys and gardens of the small Breton village. These photographs, printed in very large format (up to ten meters), transform the town of La Gacilly into an open-air gallery. A crazy idea that germinated more than twenty years ago in the mind of Jacques Rocher, son of Yves Rocher, who had already set up his business in his native city – and Auguste Coudray, the festival’s president. “It was a somewhat crazy and unreasonable dream to want to install art in rural areas, to compete with major events such as the Rencontres d’Arles or Visa pour l’image, in Perpignan, and to promote a committed and positive ecology.”

Tribute to nature

“The bet is successful!” notes Cyril Drouhet, exhibition curator. The figures confirm it: 4 million visitors and 300 photographers have responded in two decades. “The La Gacilly Photo Festival has dug a furrow from which it has never deviated: the link that unites man and nature. It alerts, awakens consciences and keeps our wonder intact”, adds Cyril Drouhet. For this anniversary edition, 20 signatures and 800 of their photos are to be discovered during the stroll. Surprises, concerns, enchantment, ecological clicks or photographic vocations will, no doubt, once again be part of the game.

In this festive year, the opportunity is perfect to underline what binds past and future. Its theme, “Nature as a heritage” – the one we have received and the one we will pass on – sets the framework. The exhibited photographers, for their part, build bridges between generations. “We wanted to give pride of place to the work of the great masters of environmental photography, but also to the new generations of artists who share the concern to make the human race cohabit sustainably with its natural environment.”

keep your eyes open

“On the fundamental questions of urbanization, biodiversity, natural resources, pollution or global warming, we will try to provide, with supporting images, if not solutions, at least lines of thought to leave our eyes open to the world”, explains the commissioner.

This is how the 79-year-old Brazilian photographer, Sebastiao Salgado, and the striking black and white images of his “Amazonia” series, the fruit of six years of work, rub shoulders; French reporter Nadia Ferroukhi and her portraits of powerful women; one of the pioneers of underwater photography, the American David Doubilet, 76 years old; the Japanese photo-reporter, Yasuyoshi Chiba and the Italian Luca Locatelli, both winners of a World Press Photo or even the multi-award-winning and published Beth Moon, hunter of remarkable American trees, or the South African Brent Stirton, explorer of the reserve natural Pantanal, Brazil…

We also meet the young eyes of the French Maxime Riché and Lorraine Turci or photographers who play with their shots by adorning them with paintings, pearls, embroidery. Like the Ivorian Joana Choumali who intervenes with poetry on her images taken with a smartphone, or the Iranian Nazli Abbaspour, master of ghostly photomontage. Like the world it reflects, photography is in no way fixed and its legacy is continually revisited by its experts, “scouts”, according to Jacques Rocher.

It is also this vitality, this plurality of approaches and treatments, as well as the acuity of vision of the professionals, that the festival of La Gacilly salutes through its clashes.

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