Editorial of Jean-François Leroy
Yes, Visa pour l’Image will indeed be happening. Despite an extraordinary public health situation that has paralyzed the entire world, and provided that there is no second wave of the pandemic, the iconic exhibition sites in Perpignan will not be left with bare walls in this the year of the 32nd festival. We are understandably pleased about this, and realize just how useful our spot in the calendar has proven to be: always the first week in September (so often criticized by parents with children going back to school), but this time the date has meant we can save the event. Unfortunately others have not had the same luck.
We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that 2020 will be the same as previous festivals. Health and safety measures now imposed require us, and quite rightly so, to restrict movements, and they will automatically have repercussions on the logistics and atmosphere of the festival. Things have to be adapted to the circumstances, but this opens up scope for devising new ways of achieving our goals. It is an opportunity for us to adopt a different approach to the work we have been doing every year for more than thirty years now, showing you the very best photojournalism that is being produced. This time, therefore, it is an opportunity to change the “standard formats” of Visa pour l’Image.
For festival-goers, nothing could ever replace physical presence and the emotional response when standing in front of a frame, with a perfectly cut mat around a finely printed photograph, the combined work of talented craftsmen and women, even when people are crowded together in the oppressive heat and narrow passageways of the Couvent des Minimes. Of course nothing could ever replace the experience of the evening shows at Campo Santo which, this year, will be featured as virtual screenings.
Visa pour l’Image will indeed be happening. The familiar frames will be hanging on the walls, as they are every year at the Couvent des Minimes and the Église des Dominicains. But for those who are unable to be in Perpignan, we have been working over recent months on new possibilities for presenting the reports selected for the year. Exhibitions, screenings, discussions and conferences will be available in virtual form, innovating and changing the styles that form part of the history of Visa pour l’Image. As we all find ways of coping with the worldwide crisis, we are proud to be present and active this year, together with our traditional and loyal partners who have confirmed their unwavering support, thus making it possible for us to devise and develop new formats; these will then be extended and maintained, expanding the content and features of the festival over the years to come.
In these difficult and agitated times where the distinction between facts and opinion is increasingly blurred, at a time when unchecked information and stories are the basic feedstock for discussions on social media, and even televised debates, we believe that Visa pour l’Image can provide a number of things so sorely missing at the present time - substantive content, nuance, background and perspective - and we can see once again, as always, that this is the essence of photojournalism.
Jean-François Leroy May 11, 2020