exhibition, Paris, photography

The Leica-Wielding Dancer (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

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Granted, the exhibition “Images à la Sauvette” at the Fondation Cartier-Bresson (January 11 – April 23, 2017) is a great opportunity to see most of the photographs published in the eponymous –and mythical– album, be it for the first time or once again. Undoubtedly, it will be an interesting discovery for neophytes, and a refresh of pleasant memories for long-time amateurs of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work. But it seemed there were no surprises, nothing original, until I happened on a short 1’40’’ film, shown in a nook, in which we can see the Frenchman at work (although he apparently hated being photographed of filmed), caught in action by the American photographer Gjon Mili. The scene takes place during the celebrations for the Chinese New Year in New York, in 1959: paper dragons, firecrackers, a crowd… nothing extraordinary, just partying. But in the midst of this crowd, we see a man dancing, jumping, bouncing around in whirls and zigzags, gently elbowing his way, taking a step back, two steps aside, three steps forward, ready for anything.

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event, exhibition, Paris, photography

Luminescent Specters (Paolo Gioli)

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Paolo Gioli, Luminescenti, 2010, polaroid, 20x25cm

Two series of photographs by Paolo Gioli are currently on show at SAGE Paris gallery, until November 6, including these images of ancient sculptures, bathed in a green light that gives them an eerie presence.

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Paolo Gioli, Luminescenti, exhibition view, François Sage Gallery

This wall of photographs will be on display at Paris Photo; to find out more about them, you can read the little book in which I wrote on those series – I will sign it at the gallery’s booth (C30) during the fair, Saturday, November 12, 3pm. Come!

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contemporary art, exhibition, photography

Revisiting the History of Photography (2 – Élysée)

Israel Arino, The Century-Old Children, 2013, ambrotype on a wet plate, 50x50cm

Israel Arino, The Century-Old Children, 2013, ambrotype on a wet plate, 50x50cm

The current MAMVP exhibition, curated by Jan Dibbets, is based on the artist’s idiosyncratic conception of photography; alternatively, “The Memory of the Future”, presented at the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne (May 25 – August 28, 2016) and curated by its new director, Tatyana Franck, grew out of a meticulous study of the museum’s artistic and technical collections. This difference in perspective can be read in the exhibitions’ titles: Dibbets’ “Pandora’s Box” is poetic and allusive, Franck’s “Memory of the Future” is more formal and, at the same time, paradoxical.
The latter is situated in the Musée de l’Élysée’s beautiful villa, which the institution will leave in a few years for a new and bold building designed by an extraordinary Portuguese agency, near Lausanne’s train station (cue the inveterate Parisian reactionary lamenters spewing their usual venom on the shores of Lake Geneva). With this move, the institution will be joining a new cultural platform (named only days before its inauguration).
“The Memory of the Future” starts off by revisiting ancient image-making techniques, creating a dialogue between vintage photographs unearthed from the reserves and artworks by contemporary artists exploring these techniques today. Contrary to Dibbets’ exhibition in Paris, the emphasis here is on the materiality of the image, its texture, its condition, its physicality… there is even a device created by a research lab enabling 3D renditions of photographs —an invention you would expect to see in relation to sculpture rather than photography. Continue reading

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Arles, exhibition, photography

About Women (Rencontres d’Arles – 5)

 

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Exhibition view: Laia Abril, A History of Misogyny, Chapter One: On Abortion, reproduction of an Catholic orthodox fresco depicting Jesus Christ in lament as he holds an aborted fetus in his hand [photograph by Suzanna Pozzoli]

The Rencontres d’Arles 2015 were widely decried for their lack of women photographers: only one woman actually had a solo exhibition last year (not taking into account the Discovery Award). What’s worse, it wasn’t very good, and very stereotypically “feminine” in its theme and title, the “Coup de foudre”, i.e. [love] “At First Sight”. The message seems to have gone through to the organizers for this year’s edition –there’s even a Madame Figaro Photo Award (after the woman weekly supplement to the daily Le Figaro) for one woman photographer’s work on display in Arles.
So, an effort has been made, at least quantitatively; in terms of quality, the exhibitions are moderately interesting (as it is the case overall, in my eyes), and only one stands out from the pack, Laia Abril’s. Precisely, her exhibition has garnered widespread acclaim, and won the Award by a landslide (as I have been told).

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Arles, exhibition, photography

What A Guy! (Rencontres d’Arles – 4)

Photographs in 3 Acts - sample/reproduction file

Ethan Levitas, Frame #21, Photograph in 3 acts, 2012

The first evening I spent in Arles, I met in some bar a young and friendly American photographer, Ethan Levitas. He said he was presenting an exhibition at the Grande Halle, and that he was confronting Garry Winogrand. “What a cheeky guy!”, I thought to myself. Continue reading

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Arles, exhibition, photography

Distance or Empathy? (Rencontres d’Arles – 3)

1 Eikoh Hosoe, Man and Woman, 1961.jpg

Eikoh Hosoe, Man and Woman, 1961

The starkest contrast on view at the Rencontres d’Arles 2016 can be found at the Méjan, one floor below the yellow-tinted exhibition of Tkachenko’s white photographs. It’s not a clash between two photographic styles, but a radical opposition between two ethos, two ways of relating to the photographed subject and therefore to the world –two philosophical standpoints, in fact. The subject at hand is Butoh, the Japanese danse –a rebel, introspective, radical and subversive art form– created by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno at the end of the 1950s. Continue reading

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Arles, exhibition, photography

Whiteness & Occultation (Rencontres d’Arles – 2)

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Danila Tkachenko, The world’s largest diesel submarine, Samara region, Russia, 2013 [exhibition view]

At the Rencontres d’Arles, there are the official Rencontres, and then there is the “Off” Festival. The official exhibitions and events are detailed in a green and white 24-page leporello leaflet, which serves as a guide map as well as a distinctive emblem, along with your Pro, Press or Staff lanyard. But the leaflet also includes the “Associated Programme” [sic], which goes back and forth between the “In” and “Off” and comprises the exhibitions presented by the LUMA Foundation, the ENSP (the national photography school based in Arles), the brand Olympus, the Musée Réattu, and the Méjan (curated by Arles-based publisher Actes Sud). At the Méjan, after the butoh on the first floor (I will of course come back to it [see Arles 3], as this confrontation between two conceptions of photography is too interesting not to address), I made my way upstairs to look at Hans Silvester’s ethnographical account of the Bench, a little-known ethnic group living in the south of Ethiopia. It is interesting as a documentary work but, beyond that, it does not elicit much enthusiasm. However, basking in the yellowish glow of the room, I was awed by the discovery of a remarkable work, not mentioned anywhere, missing from the program, forgotten by all official speakers, overlooked by the media… although it is, in my eyes, one of the most important propositions of the week.

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Danila Tkachenko, Deserted observatory located in the area with the best conditions for space observations

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