Saturday

By Beverly Spicer September 8th, 2007

I am reduced to using small internet cafe near the PAMS as for over 24 hours no one has been able to get online there. So I am using a French keyboard on a borrowed computer and the letters are arranged differently, which takes a little learning. For instance, if I were to write something simple, it would appear thusly: < ùThe 2Auick brozn fox ju,ped over the lqwy dog:<ù That, my friends translates: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."

So much for those sorts of grumblings, now I turn to the festival. We find ourselves in the last full day of the premier week, and many will be returning to their various homebases tomorrow, including me. I am certain I will have more to say once this 'feast' is digested. I love festivals such as this because so much goes on later in the psyche that happens in retrospect of the experience. For a long time, to which photographer Gilles Peress can attest, I have yearned for instant understanding. When I first expressed that notion to him in 1983, the internet was not something I could comprehend that awaited us in the future. But it is here, and so our relay of information and images is lightning fast, giving us a shot at the immediate grasping of a situation. This festival is so much about that. Here, as on the internet, one gets the full load of what is unfolding in the world that we otherwise could not know from the handful of newspapers or publications available at the corner newsstand. It is mind boggling.

All day long and every evening we absorb still exhibitions and slide presentations of the most prominent of photographers working all over the world. We are also getting a good dose of the finest archivally significant work of the most revered documentary photographers ever to work in photojournalism. This work defines our history and portends thing to come as the never-ending drama unfolds around us.

Here in Perpignan, we sit placidly in an ampitheater enjoying beautiful images accompanied by exciting music, and the whole experience belies the real subject, which is the otherwise-black box in which we find enormous suffering, decay, horrific abuse of human rights and war, war, war.
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It is not as if this is anything new, but what is perhaps new is that any one of us at home on a personal computer can with the click of a mouse view as many of these images we are seeing and more, the difference being that here in Perpignan for this special week we do it in the presence of those who actually produced the images.
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There is something surreal about knowing that the photographer sitting in the row just in front or behind was last week photographing this or that horrendous event in Iraq or Afghanistan or the Sudan, or any of the other numerous hot spots around the world. But now, here we are in Perpignan.
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This same person now enjoys a glass of wine, an abundance of meats, fruits, cheeses and fancy desserts on these balmy evenings in beautiful France where we are safe, sound, and replete. Again, mind boggling, if one really thinks about it.
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So for now, I sign off. Read more about the festival here: http://www.visapourlimage.org

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