It’s been a week since I said goodbye to Paris, and I am still inspired and energized by all I saw there. First of all, it’s Paris. Every time you turn a corner, you are greeted by an absolutely magnificent, iconic landmark. Oh, hello Eifel Tower. The French make everything beautiful, from Notre Dame to lamp posts. It’s a feast for the eyes. . . and soul.
Then add Paris Photo to the mix, and you have a mind-blowingly amazing aesthetic adventure. Paris Photo is the largest photography fair in the world, and even after spending two full days walking up and down the rows of booths, I did not come close to seeing it all. Held at the Grand Palais, the fair has row after row after row (after row) of booths, each with walls full of photographs from a different photography gallery from around the world. The scope of this fair is so much larger than AIPAD, mostly because of all the international galleries that participate.
So what did I see? A better question is what didn’t I see? I saw my favorite Eggelston up close and personal. I saw a cyanotype photogram by Christian Marclay at Frankel Gallery’s booth. A chat with Darius Himes (the gallery director) revealed the price to be $45,000. Alas, it had already been sold. Sigh. I got to catch up with Julie Blackmon at Robert Mann’s booth and Phil Toledano, who had three large pieces from his new body of work for sale. Oh! Mike Brodie's photographs. And then there was that Abelardo Morell photograph I was coveting. . .
There was a small section showing the work of some students who won a competition to be included. I fell in love with the work of Julien Mauve, who was selling work hand over fist (much to his dismay, I think). He was lovely, and I strongly encourage you to check out his work. He’s a rising star for sure.
And then the photobooks! I lugged a ten pound book about contemporary Chinese photography half way around the city. But the real treat was the section devoted to photobooks from the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation photobook awards. They were all incredible, but I loved this set of accordion books by Thomas Sauvin called Silvermine (published by Archive of Modern Conflict). They are typologies created from negatives found at a recycling center near Beijing. The negatives were sent there for their silver nitrate content. From the description: "Most critically, this project offers a sneak peak at the rise of the Chinese middle class in the twenty years between the introduction of the personal film camera (ca. 1985) and the adaptation almost exclusively of digital point-and-shoot (ca. 2005).
There were also exhibits around the city, and we were able to make it to two - Sergio Larrain's Vagabonds at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation and Hiroshi Sugimoto's Accelerated Buddha at the Yves Saint Laurent Foundation. I wasn't familiar with Larrain's work, and it was an interesting show. But the treat was really the Sugimoto. The Accelerated Buddha looping video piece was unbelievable. You sit in a small room and the video is projected on three walls, so you are surrounded. Just trust me on this one. And if you get to Paris before January 26, do yourself a favor and watch it three times in a row like we did.
So in a nutshell - Paris was amazing. Go there.
Please excuse my less-than-stellar iPhone pictures. I rented a Fuji X-Pro for the trip, but haven't figured out how to convert the raw files yet. . .