With more than 147 galleries from 34 countries and a new initiative (the Prisms section in the Salon d’Honneur), it can be hard to figure out exactly how to divide one’s time at Paris Photo. But as the 19th edition of the renowned fair premieres this week at Grand Palais in Paris, we take a look at some of the not-to-miss exhibitors.
Dawoud Bey began his career as an artist in 1975 with a series of photographs, Harlem, USA, that was later exhibited in his first one-person exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. He has since had exhibitions worldwide, at institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Barbican Centre in London, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Bey is renowned for his large-scale color portraits of adolescents and other often marginalized subjects.
Arnau Blanch was born in Barcelona, Spain, and grew up in a small village near Girona. When he was 21, he moved to Barcelona to study photography at the Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya, specializing in photo-essays and writing about photography. At the end of 2006 Arnau went to New York to study at the International Center of Photography, where he followed the courses Passion, Purpose and Personal Vision, and You, Your Life, Your World in the Documentary Photography program.
Liu Bolin aka the invisible man was born in 1973 in Shandong and a graduate of Shandong Art College and Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, Liu Bolin became popular for his mastery at the art of camouflaging himself against virtually any background. One single photo takes up to 10 hours to prepare – Liu uses himself as a blank canvas, and with a little help from an assistant, he paints his body to merge as seamlessly as possible with what is behind him. The results are incredible – sometimes passers-by don’t even realize he is around until he moves. While his camouflage artworks are really mind blowing, he’s here with a message: “The situation for artists in China is very difficult and the forced removal of the artist’s studio is in fact my direct inspiration of this series of photographs, Hiding In The City…I am standing, but there is a silent protest, the protest against the environment for the survival, the protest against the state.”
Boomoon is a South Korean photographer currently living in Seoul and Sokcho. Since the 1980’s he has been engaging with the landscape in his work as a means of self-reflection, producing large format photographs of vast expanses of sea, sky and land. Devoid of human presence, the central emphasis of his work is the experience of the infinity of nature and the representation of it’s presence. His work was described by Charlotte Cotton as depicting ‘the unknowable and uncontrollable character of nature.’
James Casebere was born in 1953, in East Lansing, Michigan. He attended Michigan State University and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, from which he graduated in 1976 with a BFA. In the fall of 1977, he attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York and received an MFA from Cal Arts in 1979. Casebere’s pioneering work has established him at the forefront of artists working with constructed photography. For the last thirty years, Casebere has devised increasingly complex models that are subsequently photographed in his studio. Based on architectural, art historical and cinematic sources, his table-sized constructions are made of simple materials, pared down to essential forms. Casebere’s abandoned spaces are hauntingly evocative and oftentimes suggestive of prior events, encouraging the viewer to reconstitute a narrative or symbolic reading of his work.
Christto Sanz and Andrew Weir are the photography duo based in Qatar who visually translate the country’s rapid changes through their exuberant and humorous hyperreal scenarios. Hailing from Puerto Rico and South Africa, respectively, the artists blend the vintage and surreal to interpret the speedy economic growth and the formation of identity of Doha – a city where migrants form the majority of the population. “Current Obsession” is one of their latest projects featuring their vivid and colourful photographs, often with models recruited from the streets of Qatar.
Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger are two Swiss photographers that have been working collaboratively together for over ten years. Collectively they conceive and manufacture surreal worlds in their compositions of ‘staged’ photography. “Cortis & Sonderegger’s works are characterised by a clear aesthetic diction. Their image tricks are satirically created, ingeniously staged and metaphorically back-filled. Objects and people take off, hover, fall… The trademark in their pictures is the fact that the impossible is nimble and playful, their photographic raw materials are simple fabrics, props and tools. The artificial structure with linkage and equipment, with reductions of foreground and background to an image scenery, with light and smoke machines etc. are often made transparent at the edges of the image, reinforcing the message with digital retouching… the two photographers make themselves known as the true inventors for their visual ideas…”
Omar Victor Diop was born in Dakar in 1980. Since his early days, Omar Victor Diop developed an interest for Photography and Design, essentially as a means to capture the diversity of modern african societies and lifestyles. The quick success of his first conceptual project Fashion 2112, le Futur du Beau which was featured at the Pan African Exhibition of the African Biennale of Photography of 2011 in Bamako (Rencontres de Bamako) encouraged him to end his carrer in Corporate Communications to dedicate to photography in 2012. Omar Victor Lives in Dakar, his body of work includes Fine Arts and Fashion Photography as well as Advertising Photography. He enjoys mixing his photography with other forms of art, such as costume design, styling and creative writing. His work is interrogative and intriguing, prospective, yet a tad vintage and draws inspiration from Diop’s international uplifting, as well as his african visual heritage.
Samuel Fosso was born in 1962 in a small village in Cameroon. He started his own photographic studio in Bangui, capital of the Central-African Republic, as a remarkably precocious 13-year-old and began to make self-portraits only a year later. 25 years on, those self-portraits have now earned him international acclaim. Though his work has evolved completely independently of contemporary art photography, it is often compared with that of artists such as Cindy Sherman. The studio Fosso opened as a teenager was called ‘Studio Photo Nationale’. Often his clients needed their photos developed the next day, even though the roll of film wasn’t yet full. Just for fun, he started using those otherwise wasted negatives to photograph himself in bizarre poses, a joke that soon turned serious when he decided to do those on a regular basis. His studio changed throughout the years – first he moved to ‘Studio Confiance’ (which was renamed ‘Studio Gentil’), then ‘Studio Hobereau’, and finally to the current ‘Studio Convenance’ in 1982 – but to the present day Fosso remains committed to his self-portraiture.
Jitish Kallat is one of the most prominent figures of contemporary Indian Art. Working across a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography and installation, his work reflects a deep involvement with the city of his birth (Mumbai) and derives much of its visual language from his immediate urban environment. His subject matter has been described previously as ‘the dirty, old, recycled and patched-together fabric of urban India’. Wider concerns include India’s attempts to negotiate its entry into a globalised economy, addressing housing and transportation crises, city planning, caste and communal tensions, and government accountability. Many of Kallat’s works focus on Mumbai’s downtrodden or dispossessed inhabitants, though treating them in a bold, colourful and highly graphic manner. Kallat traditionally mounts his paintings on bronze sculptures that are re-created from the wall adornments found on the 120-year-old Victoria Terminus train station in the centre of Mumbai.
Matthew Pillsbury was born in Neuilly, France in 1973. After receiving a MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He focuses on creating large black-and-white photographs using an 8×10 camera. He takes long exposures, often an hour or two, of people working with computers, using handheld electronic devices or watching television. Matthew Pillsbury’s photos are among the collections of renowned museums, including the Guggenheim and the Tate Modern. In 2007, Mr. Pillsbury won the prestigious Fondation HSBC pour la Photographie award for the visual acuity of his work.
Sarker Protick came to photography when one day during his graduate studies at University, he decided to take a picture of the sun with a camera phone. The bright sun immediately crashed his phone, the light proving too intense for his camera, but it did ignite his desire to make pictures. In 2014, he was named in British Journal Of Photography’s annual ‘Ones to Watch’. The same year, Sarker was selected for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. In 2015, he went on to win a World Press Photo award for his story ‘What Remains’ and was listed in PDN’s 30 emerging photographers of the year.