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Hyères 2012 Grand Prix du Jury Photographie: Jessi
Hyères 2012 Grand Prix du Jury Photographie: Jessica Eaton

Hyères 2012: Jury's Verdict

We chat to jury members Karen Langley and Anne-Céline Jaeger about their experiences at the French festival

Hyères has a reputation as the launchpad of referenced talent. In fashion, Anthony Vaccarello and Romain Kremer are just two of the names that have won the top prize at the festival, held at the town of the same name in the south of France. This year's judges included Yohji Yamamoto and Dazed & Confused's Fashion Director Karen Langley, though the event, in its 27th year, is far more than fashion, reaching across the creative spectrum to exhibit photography talent, architecture, design and showcase music (this year Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs were on the bill as well as other acts and djs, programmed by Stage of the Art).

The best moment had to be on the beach Sunday night dancing to Azealia Banks' 212 with Michel Mallard, his helpers Simon and Anaelle, all the photography finalists, the photo jury and even our trusty, smiley driver Douga. It was a hysterical circle of group love and grinding

2012 overall grand prix de jury winners for fashion were the colourful, kinetic Finnish trio of Siiri Raasakka, Tiia Siren & Elina Laitinen; whilst Canadian photographer Jessica Eaton won the highest accolade for her experimental photography which manipulates time and perception – both are seen here. Dazed Digital spoke to judge Karen Langley about her fashion viewpoint and author and critic Anne-Céline Jaeger, who contributes to titles including Foam and NOWNESS, about the photographic element of the heralded weekend.

Dazed Digital: What does Hyères mean to you? And what did you enjoy this year?
Karen Langley:
It means something very different now to before I went. Hyères is a platform for new talent but I wasn't aware of the history of Villa Noailles, what a worthwhile project it is and a labour of love, through Michel Mallard [photography director of Hyères] and Pascale Mussard [art director of Petit H at Hermès], who has done extensive archive research on the artists involved with the villa, what was produced there and what it was like. It's a special place to be nurturing creativity – and amazing this ethos is carrying on there.

Anne-Céline Jaeger: Before this year I had never been, but of course I'd heard a lot about it. I had very high expectations as I'd been told by people in the photography world who've been on the jury in previous years how fun it is. Nevertheless I was blown away as the reality was above and beyond what I thought it was going to be. I really enjoyed the generous time jurors have to spend with the finalists and all the discussing that went on amongst the jury. But the best moment had to be on the beach Sunday night dancing to Azealia Banks' 212 with Michel Mallard, his helpers Simon and Anaelle, all the photography finalists, the photo jury and even our trusty, smiley driver Douga. It was a hysterical circle of group love and grinding.

DD: What were you looking for from the designers and their collections/photographers and their images?
Karen Langley:
You're not expecting the collection of a lifetime, resources are limited and chances are there's no assistance with production – the designers are physically making everything themselves. What you're looking for is achievement within those perimeters; if the designer were to be given the resources, they could build on what they're doing, keep pushing forward and generating good work. I think the Chloé prize is particularly great: the winner of that sees their look go into production. Steven Tai was able to adapt his aestehtic and apply it commercially.

Anne-Céline Jaeger: It's hard to explain but I was looking for images that stop you in your tracks, that make you see the world in a new way, advancing the discourse about what photography is and where it's going, challenging both artist and viewer in some way. Photography that makes me think 'what am I looking at and why am I looking at it?' As well as 'does the photographer have a coherent series?'

DD: Do you have any favourite talents from previous Hyères festivals?
Karen Langley:
Sandra Backlund is someone who stands out for me...

Anne-Céline Jaeger: I don't have any favourites as such but Amira Fritz springs to mind as I chose one of her images for the back cover of the second edition of my book. But watch this space I am certain that quite a number of this year's selection are going to go on to create astounding work and become household names in the art and photography world.