Perpignan 2007

Day 2 in Perpignan

By Beverly Spicer Thursday, September 6th, 2007

It is Wednesday, and the festival is coming alive. Today started off of course at the PAMS where photographers are starting to swarm like bees. Every one of them wants to show a portfolio, and the excellence of the work is staggering. Some of it. The agencies seem to be as hungry as the photographers, and we found almost as many agencies promoting their work on a one-to-one basis as photographers looking for a break.  In other words, where one usually finds 10 photographers competing for a portfolio review, we found several agencies asking instead of being asked. That will all change as more and more of photographers arrive from all over the world.

It doesn’t take long for food and where-to-go-next-to-get-it to become a pressing issue, so at 2pm we headed for the plaza that has many outdoor restaurants, now overtaken with photographie aficionados. We walk along singing the song “He Went to Paris”…where he was “looking for answers to questions that bothered him so”……musing over perhaps a common fate, “the French wines and cheeses and warm summer breezes put his ambitions at bay….”
But ambitions at bay are not the case here in Perpignan. There is plenty of leanness and hunger to go around, both literally and metaphorically. Maybe an explosion of one’s career, but for now, steak tartare, red wine, mussels au gratin, red wine, thin thin thin anchovy pizza, red wine, fruit, fromages, red wine, water with gasse, cafe au lait.
This afternoon took us to the Palais Congres where for formal displays by agencies, camera demonstrations and a large room touting the latest in the computer world of Apple. The Palais is a very large building north of the PAMS area with many suites inside. Every one is used for the benefit of Visa Pour L’Image.
Taking up three floors, it is a maze of visual stimulation, and it is up and down the steps again and again to see it all.
in viewing the slick quality of work at every turn made me think of the time and energy that has gone into preparing for this festival by literally hundreds of individuals.
Stacks and Stacks of cards, brochures, pamphlets and information sheets are available, and all of the representatives seems very generous with their time.
People are here from all over the world, and the presentations show work from the far corners of the earth.
The Digital Journalist is associated with Digital Railroad, which we use to upload our photos for the magazine site. We loved seeing the reps here, and here’s a look at two of them having a grand time as well.

At 5pm we settled in a large auditorium for a presentation by renowned Magnum photographer Abbas. Some of the younger photographers seemed only marginally aware of the work by who is now perhaps one of the world’s top ten photographers. For about 45 minutes, Abbas gave a powerful presentation of his work from the revolution in Iran from 1979. As a lover of black and white and also the subject of Islam, and knowing several journalists/photographers who were also there, I soaked it up like a sponge. I was able to speak briefly later with Abbas outside the presentation and also much later when we ran into him accidentally on the street, and I realized when we exchanged sentiments I was not just talking to a man or a photographer, but also talking to history. Here are some of the images from his presentation in the dark auditorium. The last is of Abbas himself, an intriguing, soft-spoken gentleman who has, shall we say, seen a lot.
I had a tech problem yesterday. When I could write, I was unable to get onto the internet to file. When I was elsewhere, I was unable to plug into an electrical outlet. Keeping batteries charged and finding a free internet connection are things which, if they happen together here in Perpignan, are a dream come true. More to follow.

We converge on the city of Perpignan and the festival Visa Pour L’Image

By Beverly Spicer Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

rue-emile-zola.jpgAfter much ado and some confusion, we converge on the city of Perpignan and the festival Visa Pour L’Image. Dirck and Joan Gramatte arrived from New York at Charles de Gaulle Airport and immediately endured a 4 hour wait due to un petit bomb threat. Someone had left an unattended bag nearby. I arrived from Texas also at Charles de Gaulle, and ran as fast as humanly possible to the next gate for my flight to Montpellier, but was not allowed on the plane because boarding was already completed, and so also had a 4 hour complication.
Today, we have all registered for the festival at the Hotel PAMS and have figured out our phones and finally found internet connections that work. The exhibition of Dirck’s retrospective MOMENTS IN TIME is just nearby, and he has had interviews this morning and all afternoon.

Here I sit on the marble floor in the hallway outside the registration office and garden meeting spot at the PAMS beginning my blog. The corners of this hallway have electricity so we can recharge while blogging. There are three of us on the floor at the moment, and I notice how close one begins to feel with perfect strangers sitting side by side on a cold floor, plugged into an electrical outlet like piglets sucking the teat of their mother. We are hopelessly dependent upon technology. Viva technologie!!
beverly-blogging-with.jpgYou’re going to have to pardon my French though my accent is good enough that after a simple request I am often mistaken for a native. However, the expression on my face when my respondent launches into a barrage of complex words is enough to expose me completely. Fortunately, everyone has a sense of humor and there is mercy. Making ridiculous mistakes is the only way to get better, but we are reminded how important the language barrier is, and if you want to go to the bathroom, you’d better know what you’re talking about. I should have brought a book with me that I bought recently about life as a foreign correspondent, “Anybody Here Been Raped and Speak English?” by Edward Behr. The title is even more hilarious today than a few weeks ago when I bought the book.

Suddenly those of us on the floor are experiencing a weak internet signal, so my attempts to upload anything have now been foiled. The time on my computer says 11:13 AM, but for me here in Perpignan on this cold floor waiting for mother’s milk in the form of a wireless connection, it is 5:13 PM. So, I will check back later to see if I can connect.

It is now 45 minutes later, and all those trying to connect have abandoned the teat. Now it is all mine, and so, here I post our first experiences in Perpignan. New problems never cease, and at the moment we have an image problem with the server, so, images will follow soon, we hope.