20th Anniversary of Paris Photo at the Grand Palais

To get you hyped for this year’s Paris Photo, Wonderland’s gotten the low down from festival director’s Florence Bourgeois and Christoph Wiesner.

Danny Lyon, 1966

Danny Lyon, 1966

Photography heaven! We mean, what better venue for the photo event of the year (Nov 10-13) than Paris’s Grand Palais. With its enormous glass vault ceiling and ornate iron frame it plays perfect host to iconic photographs old and new, famous and undiscovered. Paris Photo is melting pot of ideas, transforming Paris’s famous ehibition hall into hallowed ground for dealers, collectors, curators, artists and art aficionados alike. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the festival, organisers promise this is the largest edition yet, with over 135 exhibitors from 23 countries with themes ranging from body and performance to youth talent and fashion. Take it from directors Florence Bourgeois and Christoph Wiesner, the festival is not to be missed!

What should we be most excited about catching at Paris Photo 2016?

Paris Photo is the event that reunites the world of photography. It’s exciting because, for those passionate about photography, it is the moment of the year when the world’s leading galleries and art book dealers working in the medium come together and present the best there is to offer: unique, rare and historical works, modern classics, new works and the latest trends. Also the fair is set in one of the world’s most elegant exhibition centers, the majestic Grand Palais in the heart of Paris the historical center for photography.

How would you describe this year’s show in your own words?

This year’s show is special because it is the 20th edition of Paris Photo and it is our largest edition to date with 153 galleries and 30 publishers from 30 countries. Many of our exhibitors have been with us over the years, for others this is their first participation. In both cases, there has been tremendous support for the fair and for its contribution to the medium over the last two decades. We are releasing a limited edition publication, Paris Photo 1997-2016, Parcours, that traces this history and reunites over 80 contributions from artists, curators, critics and art professionals.

The pre-fair programme has already begun with an installation of Raphael Dallaporta at the Gare du Nord and radio broadcasting inviting listening to rethink how they see photography.

How has the exhibition gone about using gallery space?

Exhibitors at Paris Photo are selected for the quality of their projects as well as the quality of their presentations. You can expect museal style installations that attest to the high standards of the fair where attention is given to every detail.

Hank Willis Thomas, 1993

Hank Willis Thomas, 1993

One of the themes of Paris Photo 2016 is youth talent. Why do you feel this is important to promote and how can we do it better?

It is our mission to present a full panorama of the medium and this includes young talent. This is of course one of our criteria when selecting our exhibitors or creating awards programmes such as the Photobook Awards. The newest generation of artists give us a sense of where the medium is heading. Tendencies this year take us back to the beginning. Young artists are using historical processes to create their images, attention is given to unique works in a period where the questions of reproduction and the saturation of images are paramount. There is also a particular attention given to archives, their artistic status and their use in the creation of images. Today, both young and established artists are pushing and redefining the medium.

What direction have you taken with fashion photography for the exhibition?

Fashion photography is not a main focus of the fair, but it is very important part of the history of the medium. Photographers such as Richard Avedon, Helmet Newton, Horst P. Horst, of whom rare works are presented at the fair helped define the medium and represent an important part of the market today.

Who are some newcomers we can expect on the scene?

This year we are welcoming quite a few new galleries that will be exhibiting newcomers that we should look out for: Roman Road, Mor Charptentier , Laurent Godin, Chelouche, Cecile Fakhoury, Catherine Clark, Blindspot, Binome

David Hockney, 1972

David Hockney, 1972

How do you feel the different environments where you’ve worked affected your curatorial philosophy?

We both bring with us very different artistic backgrounds that complement each other very well for the organisation of the fair. Florence, having worked in the luxury industry and PAD design fair has more global and branded approach to the fair. Christoph having collaborated with Schipper & Krome and Esther Schipper in Berlin to support, promote and distribute young international artists of the 90s (both institutionally and among collectors) and also Yvon Lambert in Paris has an more insider view of the fair with a particular understanding of the work of artists and the challenges that galleries face today. As for the final selection of exhibitors, this is the result of a vote that we share with our Selection committee composed of Directors and Founders of a selection of highly respected international galleries.

You’re both art historians. How do you bring that knowledge into your everyday dealings in the art world and into this show specifically?

An understanding of art history is obviously necessary in order to give scope and depth to the show and the programming. We are very fortunate to work in a community of gallerists, publishers, curators and artists that have much to contribute and have a real investment in the fair. Paris Photo is not just a place to buy artwork, it is rendezvous for key figures in the field where encounters are made and ideas are exchanged. In the past 20 years the position of photography in the market and in the history of art has made great strides and has received its rightful recognition as an art form on its own.

Philippe Ramette, 2015

Philippe Ramette, 2015

What is your approach to working with artists? What is the dynamic like?

Regarding the organisation of the fair, we work more directly with galleries than with artists. Galleries are the first supporters of artists. This year however, we have launched a new programme with a carte blanche given to Raphaël Dallaporta in the Gare du Nord train station in collaboration with Gares et Connexion. In our discussions with the artist there was a deep reflexion on how to present photography in relation to a place and particularly in relation to a public of travellers – 800000 people pass through the every day.

We are also releasing a special publication for the 20th edition, Paris Photo 1997-2016, Parcours, for which we collaborated directly with many artists and curators. It was a very rich experience for us to see how the fair is experienced and remembered in very different ways through these photographic and written contributions. The publication is available via our online shop and at the Fair.

We are also very honoured that artists are very much involved in the fair as guests, as participants in our conversation platform, and especially in our book signing programme. This year we will host as many as 250 artists over the course of 4 days who will meet the public and sign their published works. This really is one of the high points of the fair and much appreciated by the public. This year, The Book Signing programme brings together the most renowned artists working in the medium of photography. Visitors will have the unique opportunity to meet over 200 artists exhibited at the fair who will sign and dedicate their published works. Artists participating in this year’s programme include: Agnès Varda, Anthony Hernandez, Edwards Burtynsky, Elliot Erwitt, Christina De Middel, Daisuke Yokoto, Frank Horvat, JH Engström, Joel Meyerowitz, Martin Parr, Paul Graham, Pierre & Gilles, Raphaël Dallaporta, Rebecca Norris Webb, Roger Ballen, Sabine Weiss, Sarah Moon, Sebastião Selgado, Sophie Calle, Stéphane Couturier, Susan Meiselas, Valérie Belin, William Klein, among many others.

Horst P. Horst, 1939

Horst P. Horst, 1939

The festival will run from 10 – 13 November at the Grand Palais, Paris. See the day-by-day programme at parisphoto.com.

Elly Arden-Joly
20th Anniversary of Paris Photo at the Grand Palais

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