A heart that flies towards another

“Despite everything they have been subjected to in the course of their history – slavery with shackles, or sent to salt mines in the Balkan countries, banishment, confinement, forced sedentarization and the Roma holocaust with victims numbered in the hundreds of thousands in Western Europe – gypsies have always displayed resilience, a love of life which forces respect. Their music expresses all of this – pain, despair but also a heart that flies towards another” (Tony Gatlif)

The opening letter from Maja Hoffmann in the first issue of ARLES magazine states that ‘when he came to see me three years ago to talk to me about his magazine project from which Arles would emerge, I told him to...come back later.’

The 'he' Hoffmann refers to is Beda Achermann, whose vision for a magazine about the culture in and around Arles, including the Camargue and its rich history, has finally been realised in the form of a magazine that attempts to link the points of convergence within Mediterranean creativity.

It’s of particular relevance now with the arrival of the Luma Arles. An imposing new building by Frank Gehry scheduled to open in 2020, which promises to do to Arles what the Guggenheim did to Bilbao, yet not without controversy. It's an especially sensitive subject around the Recontres D’Arles crowd. Luma Arles’s aim to be a beacon of cultural relevance is an ambitious, audacious statement in a town renowned for the heat of the mid-day sun bouncing off the stone walls of its Roman amphitheatre and, from personal experience, buses that never turn up.

In imagining the content of the first magazine a story emerged about Tony Gatlif (a film director of Romany ethnicity) and a community of gypsies living in the Camargue – the Castros, the Hernandezes, the Mailles, the Reyes and the Baliardos. Brought to life in an interview between Marc Zitzmann and Tony Gatlif they are contextualised as the families that resettled in the south of France following the fall of the Second Spanish Republic in 1939. Having acquired French citizenship they continue to live as a community made up of families. They also continue to withstand institutionalised racism and rebelliously celebrate their culture in the way that they live.

Inviting Mark Borthwick to photograph this story was obviously a great idea from the beginning. Someone who understands by instinct the experience of remaining on the outside. Somewhat undefinable, Beda knew that Mark would find the expression in the landscape and people familiar and he fully immersed himself in spending time with the families and Tony himself, photographing their mealtimes, their music, and in the landscapes of their home in the Camargue.

The landscape and light leak work pictured here bookend the first issue, and two portfolios run alongside each other. One works to illustrate the Tony Gatlif interview and the other purely celebrates the culture of this unique community.

As a centre of research, production and experimentation, Luma Arles is an ecosystem where artists, thinkers, scientists and civil society stakeholders work together toward an expansive understanding of environmental issues, human rights, creation, and education.

Studio Achermann was founded in 1990 by Beda Achermann, whose previous roles included Art Director for German Vogue, Creative Director of Männer Vogue in Munich and Creative Director of Donna in Milan.

Beda Achermann - Editor in Chief and Creative Director for Arles Magazine / Studio Achermann
Tony Gatlif - Film Director
Marc Zitzmann - Executive Editor
Arles Magazine - Publisher