Among the exhibitions at this year’s Rencontres d’Arles is “Bookmarks,” a show conceived and coordinated by advertising agency Havas Paris that suggests links between major brands and literature.
Guzman—photo duo Connie Hansen and Russell Peacock—were asked to be part of the show, which was spearheaded by Christophe Coffre, creative director and co-president of Havas Paris.
“While brands are often associated with classical or contemporary art, cinema, and music, they’re less present in the literary world,” noted Coffre in his invitation to the photographers. “…Let’s put brand names or logos on bookmarks and slip them into books. Books tell stories, as do brands. Let’s see what happens when they meet.”
Thus, Guzman were invited to choose from a list of brand/book pairs and selected Amazon and the book The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides’ bestselling tale of five teen sisters and their troubled, tragic lives.
“We thought Havas had a good combo in that choice: Amazon and a group of recalcitrant teenagers,” says Connie. “So we photographed roller-derby girls, who are modern-day amazons, a performance artist in clown drag—a sad story—and a young hip woman who looks like she might read the book or be one of the teenagers in the story.”
In viewing “Bookmarks,” writer Severine Morel of L’Oeil de la Photographie (The Eye of Photography) says, “one realizes that the world of a brand is also often a story, however artificial, and a reflection of what we are and what we dream of becoming.”
“While art photographers struggle to succeed in the world of commercial photography, professional commercial photographers struggle to have their work taken seriously by the art world,” she continues. “It’s as though there were two different aesthetics, two competing worlds of photography. ‘Bookmarks’ is the proof that this schism is illusory.”
“Bookmarks (Marque-page)” is on view through July 14 at Arles Havas Gallery, Rue du Palais, Arles, France.