Perpignan Arrival

By Beverly Spicer September 4th, 2008

The Digital Journalist has finally arrived in Perpignan.  Checking in was a breeze and it was great to see the familiar faces of the Visa Pour L’Image staff.  

There was a little bit of confusion about hotel accommodations, and I found myself at the Park Hotel, who, against all odds, had a room for the night.  While there, I ran into Horst Faas in the lobby.

After delivering messages to him from Dirck and the rest of our staff, we chatted about his new book, published just last week.  I’m looking forward to seeing this retrospective piece, which he says was comprehensively pieced together from a couple of hundred old photos, clippings, and retrieved items for which the originals had long since been misplaced or discarded by one or another publication that had received them. We spoke of how difficult it is for a photojournalist to be his own archivist, as so many photos, even negatives, are sent to various recipients but never returned.  

Horst came by train to Perpignan and then while here does all of his on-the-ground mobile travel independently.  He was in the process of changing to a hotel that could handle his special needs.  Most elevators in town, including the one at the Park, are very small, holding a maximum of 4 people.  However, a wheelchair is too wide even for one to fit there.  With much kind assistance from the staff, he was soon he was situated elsewhere.  The way that Horst lets nothing hold him back is truly inspirational, and the logistics of his life are to me mind-boggling.  

Upon finding a room and getting squared away, first up was dinner just outside of Campo Santo with Smithsonian’s Molly Roberts.  We both had some of the finest Mozarella cheese either of us has ever tasted, prepared with fine olive oil and Italian spices.  

After dinner, it was time for the evening presentation, Le Soiree de Projection, which was nothing short of breathtaking, and par for the course for Visa’s evenings.  The jet-lagged haze was the perfect mental preparation for accepting such powerful images, and I settled into a mood that I realized matched the reason I was ever interested in photojournalism to begin with, over 30 years ago. The events worldwide are more and more staggering than ever, or is it just that we have had time now not only to accrue an historical comprehension in images, but also now to produce a profound amount of work.

The work of Alexandra Boulet was featured and a Boulet award given to Jean Chung.  Next proceeded images predominantly concentrating in Africa but also all over the world ranging from China, South America, Cuba, Europe, to retrospective pieces from the United States.  The multimedia presentation was accompanied by evocative music that in my mind was perfectly selected for what we experienced in imagery.

 

The collaborators were international photo agencies, and the presentation was obviously prepared especially for Visa Pour L’Image by editors whose names I failed to record. However, upon leaving the theater area, I could only exclaim, “Thank heaven for the French.”  Thank heaven for the deep emotionality, the exquisite sensibility, and the artistry in every single phase of life.  That’s the feeling for now, until next post.

Viva la France!!

 

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