Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including Paris’ Circulation(s) festival of emerging European photography, the first-ever Kyiv Photo Book festival, and Todd Hido’s Bright Black World
The Circulation(s) festival returns to Paris from 20 April – 30 June, featuring work by photographers based in or originally from Europe. This year the festival has been directed by Francois Cheval and Audrey Hoareau, who used to work together at France’s respected Musée Nicéphore-Niépce but left to set up The Red Eye project. As they’re at pains to explain, though the festival is pitched as a festival of “young photography”, it actually promotes emerging work, whatever the photographer’s age.
“There isn’t really an age limit, the only “true” condition is to come from Europe or to reside in a European country,” they say. “Another criterion is to not have been shown very much in France and Europe. We know that the term ‘young photography’ is ambiguous… Circulation(s)’ desire is simply to offer emerging photographers, regardless of their age, a springboard.”
They add that the festival was one of the first to question the overrepresentation of male photographers, and also to pay its exhibitors; in addition, this year’s edition includes photographers from “countries whose state of contemporary photography is insufficiently known”, such has Georgia or Estonia. It also includes Romania, which this year has a special focus as part of the French Institute’s France-Romania Season.
“These documentary practices coalesced into a visual culture which, with its aptitude for capturing and transmitting collective emotions, became a tool for political propaganda,” write Hannah Darabi and Chowra Makaremi. They’re talking about the work produced in Iran in the years 1979-83, the period after the fall of the Shah and at the start of the Islamic government and a time in which freedom of speech briefly flourished, they argue, before descending into something darker.
“These few years stand out on their own in terms of the country’s publishing history,” adds Makaremi. “The creation and distribution of books would never be as unfettered as it was during this period. Nevertheless, at the same moment, books were also progressively becoming instruments of political propaganda and publishing became the laboratory in which to experiment with every form of dissemination of emotions, ideologies, and opinions. This propaganda operated through the production of texts, but also, and especially as of 1979, through visual and pictorial production.”
Darabi is a visual artist and collector who was born in 1981 in Tehran but is now based in Paris; her collection of Iranian photobooks make up the backbone of Le Bal’s latest exhibition, along with her own photographic “reconstructions”, creating using contemporary photographs of Tehran and archive images such as family snaps, press images, and postcards. Makaremi, a tenured researcher and a member of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, has “decrypted” the exhibition; in addition, Le Bal and Spector Books have worked with Darabi to create an accompanying photobook, with an introduction by Makaremi.
Photography critic for The Guardian, Sean O’Hagan picks out the projects that intrigued him most this year – including the series No More No Less © Kensuke Koike & Thomas Sauvin
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.
The Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson is moving to new premises in Paris, giving it double the exhibition space, a bigger research space, street-level access, and a place in the cultural hotspot of Le Marais, also home to the Maison Européenne de la photographie, The Pompidou Centre, the Museum Picasso, the Museum Carnavalet, and the forthcoming Pinault Foundation, to name just a few.
The Fondation HCB’s 800 square metre new home will open on 06 November, and will be further expanded “in a year or two” when a new extension will triple the hanging space from its current venue in Montparnasse, according to Fondation HCB director François Hebel. “Then we will enter more experimental shows,” he told BJP. “It is hard to say [more] as this is not today and linked to the creativity of the artists that we will enjoy showing then.”
“There is a myth that the suburbs in the outskirts of Paris are full of violence and disruption,” says Camilo Leon-Quijano, who is completing a PhD on the relationship between photography and the experience of living in low-income banlieue. “For me, it is just another place where you live and grow. Media and even academic discourse always tries to put these places down.”
Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Quijano has worked in his own country’s suburbs, the favelas, and has been studying in Paris for the last five years. “I wanted to see how people live, and try to leave behind all these negative stereotypes,” he explains.
Established back in 2008, the Fotobookfestival Kassel was the first festival devoted to the photobook and, over the last 10 years, has made a name as one of the most interesting on the calendar. Its 10th anniversary edition looks set to bear out this reputation from 31 May-03 June, with talks by celebrated photographers and photobook-makers such as Anders Petersen, Susan Meiselas, Carlos Spottorno, Mathieu Asselin, Gerhard Steidl, JH Engström, and many more, and exhibitions by Dana Lixenberg, Daniel Gustav Cramer, and the designer Sybren Kuiper (SYB). The exhibitions programme also includes two shows devoted to Kassel’s well-regarded prizes – the Dummy Award and the Photobook Award. In total 30 books have been selected for the Photobook Award by a prestigious panel including, Laia Abril On Abortion; Mathieu Asselin Monsanto – A Photographic Investigation; Ludovic Balland American Readers at Home; Tim Carpenter Local Objects; Sanne de Wilde The Island of the Colorblind; Carolyn Drake Internat; Li Feng White Night; Stephen Gill Night Procession; Anne Golaz Corbeau; David Goldblatt Structures of Dominion and Democracy; Daniela Keiser Kairo; Stephan Keppel Flat Finish; Paul Kranzler and Andrew Phelps The Drake Equation; Sandrine Lopez Moshé; Alix Marie Bleu; Raymond Meeks, Adrianna Ault and Tim Carpenter dumbsaint 01: township & bremen …
“Photography is a universally understood language. No matter where you’re from, anyone can read an image and understand what’s going on,” says French photojournalist Michael Bunel. Bunel has been working as a photojournalist for the last five years and is committed to communicating important stories through images. He’s documented the 2013 unrest in Turkey’s Taksim Square, the crisis in Ukraine, and the Calais Jungle. But now he’s turning the lens on a crisis unfolding right on his doorstep in Paris. “For several months, hundreds of refugees have been roaming the capital for lack of a better reception facility,” explains Bunel. Despite the French President Emmanuel Macron’s purported wish to make France ‘the land of the welcome’, refugees continue to sleep rough in the streets, mostly grouped in makeshift camps like those at the Canal Saint Martin in Jaurès and the Avenue of the Porte des Poissonniers. With snow falling in the French capital at the start of February and now again at the end, they’re facing freezing conditions in tents. When he was just starting …