The Parisian curator Quentin Bajac has spent the past two decades working in three of the world’s leading cultural destinations – starting out at the Musée d’Orsay, he moved to Centre Pompidou, and then the most coveted post of all, chief curator of photography at MoMA in New York. Here he shares his insights into photography and life with BJP editorial director Simon Bainbridge
Quentin Bajac is leaving the coveted role of chief curator of photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art for a new job in Paris – director of the Jeu de Paume. He succeeds Marta Gili at the Jeu de Paume, who announced in June that she would resign as the museum’s director after 12 years in the role. MoMA has stated that it will “immediately launch a search for a new chief curator of photography”, a role first made famous by John Szarkowski from 1962 to 1991.
Now in its 22nd year, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is awarded each year to image-makers who’ve made the biggest contribution to the medium in the previous 12 months in Europe. This year the shortlisted artists are: Laia Abril, for her publication On Abortion; Susan Meiselas, for the retrospective exhibition Mediations; Arwed Messmer, for his exhibition RAF – No Evidence / Kein Beweis; and Mark Ruwedel, for the exhibition Artist and Society: Mark Ruwedel. The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced at The Photographers’ Gallery on 16 May 2019.
Think of Guy Bourdin, and you’ll probably think of intense, transgressive images shot in highly-saturated colours. There’s his photograph for Pentax in 1980, for example, which shows a gush of red liquid apparently streaming from a prone woman’s mouth; or his shot from 1978, which shows a woman’s bottom and legs lying on orange sofa – her head firmly out of the picture.
But Bourdin also shot award-wining black-and-white work, which is less known now but which was celebrated in its time. There’s his black-and-white campaign for Chanel’s first ‘Premiere’ watch, for example, which he shot in 1987. Influenced by his interest in Surrealism – in particular Man Ray – and not clearly advertising images, this campaign went on to win the Infinity Award at the International Center for Photography (ICP) in New York in 1988.
Feeling all shopped out? Take refuge in a photo show – though many are being hosted by private galleries in Paris next week, meaning you can still buy prints if you want to. Photo Saint-Germain is a huge umbrella under which 36 exhibitions and events are taking place, for example, including the Polycopies and Shakespeare & Co book events and several cultural institutes, but also smaller, commercial galleries.
Paris Photo is the big one, but it isn’t the only photo fair in town next week. Held in a private mansion, a pp roc he makes a virtue out of its bijou size, hosting just 14 photographers in a private mansion in “a salon devoted to experimental photography practices”. Designed as an exhibition, this fair is accessible by reservation only, and includes celebrated photographers and galleries such as Ruth van Beek, brought by The Ravestijn Gallery; Daniel Shea, brought by Webber Gallery; and Maya Rochat, brought by Seen Fifteen. In addition, it includes “the a pp roc he sector”, a section showing two artists under the age of 40 not currently represented by a gallery (this section includes Thomas Sauvin & Kensuke Koike working together as a pair).
Paris Photo is epic, but beyond the Grand Palais there’s a plethora of other photo-related events in the French capital. For those interested in photobooks there are two essential book fairs – Offprint and Polycopies, both showcasing some of the most interesting new work in photography and beyond; there is also a week-long photo focus at the world-famous Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare & Co.
The biggest photo fair in Europe, Paris Photo returns from 08-11 November, with a new section on erotic images, and a walk-through focusing on female photographers.
Curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, curator of the French Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, the Curiosa sector will bring together intimate images by 13 artists such as Nobuyoshi Araki, JoAnn Callis, and Antoine d’Agata. Kirszenbaum hope to challenge the viewer’s gaze on the fetishised body, and tackle “relations of power, domination, and gender issues”. “There are images not everyone would like to see, which I think is good,” Kirszenbaum told BJP in an article published in our November issue.
“Assume the form of a golden deer and lure Rama away. Meanwhile I will run away with Sita,” commands Ravana, the ten-headed King of Lanka, to one of his demon slaves in the ancient Indian epic poem, the Ramayana. Ravana’s plan is to entice Sita, the beautiful goddess, and steal her away from Prince Rama. While the golden deer distracts the prince, Ravana disguises himself as a holy man begging for money; and when Sita reaches out to offer him food, he catches her and carries her away to his kingdom. This scene marks a pivotal point in the Ramayana, a story believed to have been written over 2000 years ago by Valmiki, a celebrated poet in Sanskrit literature. It is the narrative that Vasantha Yogananthan is following in his ambitious seven-part photographic project, A Myth of Two Souls, which is now on its fourth chapter, Dandaka. He’s found a different way to convey the story in each chapter, and for this one, wanted to push himself further out of his comfort zone. For previous books he …
Though he co-founded Magnum Photos with Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and George Rodger and though – like them – he was one of the great documentary photographers of the 20th century, David ‘Chim’ Seymour is less famous than his colleagues. But this winter, a large retrospective in Amsterdam looks set to change all that.
Chim [pronounced “Shim’] acquired his nickname from his surname, because he was born Dawid Szymin in Warsaw, Poland, in 1911. His family was Jewish, and his parents were respected publishers of Yiddish and Hebrew Books; Chim and his parents left Warsaw for Odessa as World War One broke out in 1914, returning to Warsaw in 1919. Chim studied printing in Leipzig, then chemistry and physics at the Sorbonne in Paris, but got into photography while in France and started working as a freelance journalist in 1933. His first credited photograph was published in 1934 in the French communist magazine Regards.