One year after it was closed down in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks on the French capital, Paris Photo returns to the Grand Palais for its 20th edition, accompanied by several independent satellite events riding on the back of what has undoubtedly grown to become the key art event in the global photography calendar.
Some 180 galleries and publishers (of which 42 are new this year) will pitch up inside the glass-topped, Beaux-Arts exhibition halls, alongside curated shows and a packed four-day programme of activities, running 10-13 November. “The goal is to show the largest panorama, from the mid 19th century to today,” says Florence Bourgeois, director of the fair since February 2015. She and Christoph Wiesner, appointed artistic director at the same time, have shifted the focus a little, moving away from curated exhibitions giving special focus to particular countries and regions. “We don’t want to give it a theme any more. We think variety is important, and it’s our job to pull out topics that we find interesting and want to highlight.”
Among the highlights is an exhibition titled The Pencil of Culture (referencing the first photography book, The Pencil of Nature, published in six instalments by William Henry Fox Talbot between 1844 and 1846), held at the Galeries Salon d’Honneur on the upper floor the Grand Palais. Curated by Clément Cheroux and Karolina Ziębińska-Lewandowska, it observes a decade of photography acquisitions by Centre Pompidou, featuring the works of more than 40 iconic image-makers, including Brassaï, Richard Avedon, Wolfgang Tillmans and Anne Collier.
Running alongside it is Prismes, an area given over to larger-scale presentations of major bodies of work (often lacking within the booths hired by individual galleries) and special commissions, now afforded extra space since its introduction last year. Here, Thomas Zander gallery from Cologne will display work by Anthony Hernandez, the Californian artist whose work is receiving widespread reappraisal at the moment, including a current retrospective at SFMOMA (BJP #7851). A dozen further shows include works by Andreï Tarkovsky, Penelope Umbrico, William Klein and Noémie Goudal, an emerging artist known for experimenting with the physical manipulation of a photographic print (BJP #7805), who is producing a bespoke body of work specifically for the space. “This was the main objective of Prismes,” says Bourgeois. “It was to show the artists that you wouldn’t find in the classic booths. Last year we felt there was a real interest in that section so we wanted to enlarge it this year.”
A notable Japanese presence can be felt in the choice of displays this November, with an exhibition of Issei Suda’s work within Prismes, coinciding with Provoke: Between Protest and Performance – Photography in Japan 1960-1975 at Le Bal in the 18th arrondissement, and, an open discussion about the Provoke magazine led by the exhibition’s curator, Diane Dufour. Elsewhere, galleries big and small across the capital will also be presenting photography exhibitions, such as a Louis Faurer retrospective showing at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, a group show titled Uprisings on at Jeu de Paume, and images made in France by Richard Avedon at Bibliothèque Nationale de France, showing alongside a first retrospective of Nikolayevich Yantchevsky that captures Paris in the 1950s. There are also various solo shows supported by international institutions, such as Arion Gábor Kudász’s Human, created on the back of winning the 2015 Robert Capa Medal at the Hungarian Institute, Hannah Starkey’s Women at the Irish Cultural Centre, Yann Gross’ Jungle Show II at the Swiss Cultural Centre, and Ruud van der Peijl’s Classix Nouveaux at Atelier Néerlandais, where the photographer is collaborating with French interior designer, Pheromones.
However, Mois de la photo, the biannual celebration of photography that brings together many of the city’s major cultural institutions to stage exhibitions across the capital, has moved dates from this November to next March, with a new focus on including venues in Greater Paris and its environs. Even so, there is still so much going on in Paris over the four days, you’d be hard pushed to see half of it.
Offprint, the independent publishing fair returns, this time with a focus on the arts business and advice on self-sufficiency in the publishing world. Fotofever, a smaller contemporary photography fair taking over Paris Photo’s former home at the Carrousel du Louvre, is back for its fifth edition, primarily focusing on emerging talent, both in photographic projects and amongst collectors’ networks. It’s also the fifth anniversary of Photo Saint-Germain, where more than 40 largely Parisian galleries and cultural centres from the ‘Rive Gauche’ will come together to fill a programme of exhibitions, screenings and library events, including the Galerie Insula, with a show of a selection of works by Olivia Lavergne. The festival focuses on the emerging issues of contemporary photography, and includes an intimate installation looking at couples in prison in suburban Rome, titled Peines Partagées, at the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés by Israeli artist Assaf Shoshan, and a night screening at the Christine 21 cinema dedicated to the works of American documentary photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank. In association with Saint-Germain, Polycopies, a hub for collectors, photographic publishing enthusiasts, writers and editors founded by Laurent Chardon and Sebastian Hau, transforms the Bateau Concorde Atlantique into a floating book shop.
As always, back in the Grand Palais, there will be a series of book signings and other talks hosted by The Platform; a forum to encourage debates according to topics such as ‘Photography beyond the image’, an examination of how more and more artists are looking at the physical quality of the photograph as object, led by Jens Hoffman, deputy director of the Jewish Museum in New York. It is also the fifth anniversary of the Photo-Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards.
The packed programme encourages a new audience to spend time at a fair that boasts an eclectic market as well as a fulfilling exhibition. The art has even spilled out onto the streets; a large-scale installation of Raphael Dallaporta’s imagery at the Gare du Nord will tease and welcome visitors to the French capital. “It’s the place where photography was born,” says Bourgeois. “So that helps.”