by Henry Shaftoe
September 1 -16 sees Perpignan flooded with professional and amateur photographers from the four corners of the globe, for the prestigious “VISA Pour l’Image” festival.
Huge exhibitions are mounted in the Couvent des Minimes, Chapelle des Dominicaines and adjacent buildings in the old town. And it’s all free!
In the evenings there are projections of the best photos of the year, at Campo Santo, adjacent to the cathedral – a powerful open air spectacle which is so popular you have to queue for at least an hour beforehand to be sure of a (free) seat.
If that was not enough for photography lovers, there is a simultaneous “Off” (fringe) series of exhibitions in various shops and cafes dotted around the centre of Perpignan.
But remember that this is primarily a festival of photo-journalism, so don’t expect pictures of frolicking fluffy kittens or harbours in the sunset. Many of the images are taken by brave (or voyeuristic?) photographers in theatres of war or other disaster areas, so some of the images, although superb, can be harrowing.
Full details are available a week or two beforehand, from the Perpignan Tourist Information Office, adjacent to Place Arago, or on the web. But if you just arrive in the centre Perpignan between the 1 and 16 September you will come across photos everywhere – last year they were draped above the canal alongside Quai Vauban and striking images were pasted on many available walls: