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Paris Photo celebrates its 25th anniversary this year as the preeminent photographic fine art fair in the world — at the Grand Palais Éphémère, from Thursday to Sunday, 10–13 November.
A silver anniversary in the photographic world might bring to mind a gelatin silver image. And there are many silver treasures at Paris Photo using this traditional black-and-white process.
But photographic evolution brings a variety of materials and processes to the art of photography. You’ll find them all at Paris Photo.
No matter what your photographic/artistic taste, something will speak to you among the thousands of photographs and the maze of international galleries.
The exhibited photographs are diverse. From the vintage silver and platinum/palladium prints (think Atget, Steichen, Kertesz, and Lartigue) to alternative processes such as cyanotype, carbon, albumen, Fresson, and wet plate collodion, to contemporary images — evocative in beauty, drama, composition, and social message.
The range of subjects, styles, and techniques has no boundaries. In fact, these days, the more unique your approach, the more attention you might garner.
What is the best way to navigate this multi-day event without total visual overload? The organizers have provided several paths.
There are three main areas of the fair:
- the main galleries (134 galleries offering solo, duo, and group exhibits),
- the curiosa segment (16 galleries selected by guest Holly Roussell that feature emerging artists and experimental approaches), and
- 34 publishers in the photography book section.
In addition to the exhibits, there are also conversations, artist talks, online viewing rooms, and book signings to keep you busy.
To help you focus your wandering, two different groups have selected featured work and artists.
Elles X Paris Photo (initiated in 2018) draws our attention to the work of 77 women artists, with a continuing goal of promoting visibility for this still underrepresented segment of the photographic community (32% women artists at this year’s fair).
Invited guest, multidisciplinary artist/actor Rossy de Palma, has selected 25 photos that she feels worthy of special recognition.
Sponsors JP Morgan Chase and BMW have also curated exhibits from their collections and art programs.
The Top 10
If you’re looking for more suggestions, here are 10 galleries, that should not be missed (IMHO):
1. Karsten Greve (Booth A14) for a conversation among four well-known photographers from different countries and different periods, with unique ways of “seeing” Paris (Herbert List, Edward Steichen, Brassaï, and Eugène Atget). It’s always rewarding to view vintage work.
2. Magnin-A (Booth B07) for a journey “Way Down South” with solo artist Nathalie Boutté, whose painstakingly detailed collage work brings historical and contemporary photos of southerners to emotional life. She creates portraits of an era with hundreds of tiny pieces of a narrative that, when printed in a range of tones, have the palette needed to recreate the grayscale of a photograph.
3. Persiehl and Heine Gallery (Booth A30) shares Gregor Törzs’ loving portrayal of the details of nature and form in this solo exhibit. His use of handmade Japanese papers, platinum processes, and careful capture of the delicacy of moments of nature make each image a unique glimpse into the fragility of the planet, with the implied message that we should treasure and protect our resources. The work has a timeless nostalgia. Is it evocative of the origin of the planet … or its future.
4. The Catharine Clark Gallery (Booth B31) introduces Mexican-American performance artist Ana Teresa Fernàndez and her work “Erasing the Border.” The photographs document her attempt to “erase” the border line between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego’s Border Field State Park, where families were, at one time, allowed to picnic together without a division between countries.
5. The Deepest Darkest Gallery (Booth B02) presents two of Barry Salzman’s projects that focus on an emotional response/connection to genocide and an attempt to understand such tragedies through the right brain, rather than a historical left-brain approach. In “The Day I Became Another Genocide Victim,” Salzman presents 100 documentary-like, although emotional, photographs of Rwanda genocide victims’ clothing that was recovered from a mass grave. Through these personal items from the last day of their life, we now gain a “portrait” of each victim and benefit from Salzman’s earnest attempt to restore the dignity of each of the lost souls as we begin to “know” their stories.
In the second of the projects, “How We See the World,” Salzman presents landscapes of some of the darkest moments in human history (in Namibia, Poland, Bosnia Herzegovina, Ukraine, and Rwanda). His camera movement and use of “veils” of light and other tools of abstraction provide a distance for us as witnesses. We can interpret and involve ourselves in these traces of the past as we wish, with a hope from the artist that somehow society can prevent these atrocities from ever happening again. We become aware of what was, what is, and what may be.
6. The Christian Berst Art Brut Gallery (Booth A25) offers a solo show of Cuban artist Jorge Alberto Cado, who invents myriad unorthodox ways to share his vision of bourgeois life, social critiques, and religious norms — from suitcases full of images to stories propelled by propellers to images with stitching and the ultimate creative use in photomontage. A multi-dimensional show … in more ways than one.
7. Magnum (Paris) (Booth F12) is celebrating its 75th anniversary and its diverse range of member photographers. The exhibit is a tribute to some of the best photographers of this generation, as curated by photographer Martin Parr.
8. Camera Obscura (Booth B33) is always a favorite, with its classic photographers, including Michael Ackerman, Jeffrey Conley, Denis Dailleux, Bernard Descamps, Gilbert Garcin, Michael Kenna, Jungjin Lee, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Sarah Moon, Paolo Roversi, Patrick Taberna, and Yamamoto Masao.
The Curiosa section of the fair provides a showcase of new talent. Well worth a visit, once you find their hidden area.
9. The Spinello Gallery (Booth SC7) invites us into the hidden world of the Lucumi religion. Originated by enslaved West Africans to practice their religion under the guise of Catholicism, their saints and rituals are still in the shadow, cloaked in secrecy, as shown in the work of Cuban American twins Elliot and Erick Jiménez who were raised in this faith by their Afro-Cuban grandmother. The shadowed figures in the images are haunting and powerful, and open our eyes to a world as yet undiscovered.
10. The Bockley Gallery (Booth SC5) presents Hmong artist Pao Houa Her and her images as she imagines her home country of Laos and what it was like in the ideal times remembered by her grandmother. Opium poppies become a central theme, as beauty and agricultural prosperity, not as the dangerous drug trade often thought of today.
Paris has always considered photography an integral part of French life and art. Happy 25th … and may there be many more. Vive la photographie!
Paris Photo is open Thursday through Sunday (November10–13) from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sunday) at the Grand Palais Éphémère in the 7th arrondissement.
Also visit the many venues of the Rencontres Photographiques of the 10th arrondissement (until December 1), Photo Saint Germain (until November 20), presenting exhibitions in various locations in the quartier, and exhibits at the Jeu de Paume and the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Lead photo credit : Flower Children-Portrait 71, 2021. Courtesy of Jean-Baptiste Huynh and Galerie Lelong & Co. (Booth E04)
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