Vintage works shine at an increasingly digital Paris photo fair


In 2018, photographer Antoni Campana’s family stumbled across a couple of red boxes hidden in his garage that contained nearly 5,000 images of the Spanish Civil War. Born in Arbucies in 1905, the Catalan artist had received several awards for his work, but kept hidden for decades the glass plates, copies and negatives he made in Barcelona between 1935 and 1940. Some of these images, showing scenes from everyday life, including young Republicans marching down the Diagonal in 1936 and Third Reich soldiers standing in the same spot in 1939, were used by the Republican side early on. After Franco came to power, Campana either didn’t want to provide propaganda for the other side or knew it would be too dangerous for him to share.

The work can now be seen at Paris Photo (until November 13) on the stand of Barcelona-based Galeria RocioSantaCruz. Established in 1997, Paris Photo is the most prestigious international photography art fair. Now, 25 years later, it poses some interesting questions for a rapidly evolving medium. One gallerist says there were few 19th-century prints at the fair this year, and speculates this is because collectors and museums have already bought them all. New discoveries like Campana’s red boxes only pop up every now and then, and meanwhile some contemporary artists in Curiosa, the department for emerging photographers, are as comfortable on canvas as they are in print.

Suburban Hauntology by Arash Hanaei and Morad Montazami

Take Suburban Hauntology, an installation by artist Arash Hanaei and curator Morad Montazami. Referring to utopian architecture from the 1960s-70s and the Metaverse, it is “a hybrid and immersive installation” comprising digital drawings, a hologram, two videos and a virtual chess game between Mark Zuckerberg and the late British philosopher Mark Fischer. Hanaei and Montazami were the first duo to win the BMW Art Makers program, which supports emerging artists and curators experimenting with contemporary pictorial design and installation – works that may not sell as easily as prints. One of the questions Hanaei and Montazami’s play raises is what it means to live in the 21st century with high definition screens and the internet.

Gallery number 8 suggests a different twist. The gallery is “online based,” says founder Marie Gomis-Trezise, ​​though it shows up at art fairs like Paris Photo. Representing a “diverse global roster of emerging artists in photography and mixed media,” it features prints by David Uzochukwu. Uzochukwu, a fast-rising Austro-Nigerian photographer, built an online community and was included in the show Flickr, 20 under 20 2014, curated by the Fashion Photo director Ivan Shaw at Milk Studios, New York. His work will soon be on display at Mali’s prestigious Rencontres de Bamako in December and has been included in the expansive traveling exhibition The new black avant-gardeand was also featured in the catalog for Im Black Awesome, Ekow Eshun’s must-see exhibition at the Hayward Gallery this summer. Uzochukwu is still only 23.

In the case of Gallery Number 8, digital distribution suggests ways the internet can open up access to a wider canon of artists. Back at the main show, a new offering called Fellowship is “advocating for the future of photography” by selling NFTs alongside prints. The Fellowship Advisory Board includes Darius Himes, Head of International Photography at Christie’s, and his list includes big names including August Sander and Guy Bourdin, both of whose work will be featured at the show. It also represents members of Magnum Photos such as Christopher Anderson, Jim Goldberg and Cristina de Middel. However, Fellowship also supports new image creators and also presented the series by visual artist Eman Ali from Oman and Bahrani in Paris Photo The earth would die when the sun stopped kissing it (2022).

Alfredo Jaars Gold in Morning AI (set of ten light boxes) (1985). Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery

But perhaps screens are a red herring, as photography has always been a nebulous medium with many lives outside of fine art prints. The Goodman Gallery exhibits Alfredo Jaar gold in the morning, for example a series of images taken in 1985 at the Serra Pelada open pit mine in Brazil; Jaar originally took over all the billboards in New York’s Spring Street subway station to show this work, combining the imagery with contemporary gold prices to depict commuters – many of them heading to Wall Street – with the precarious lives of miners to make faced . Pulled from the underground, Jaar presented these images as a series of lightboxes as a reference to the glossy world of advertising.

William Henry Fox Talbots A piece of fruit (1845)

And ultimately, photography has always been a new medium. The New York gallery Hans P. Kraus Jr. Inc is showing the 1846 salt print by William Henry Fox Talbot A piece of fruit (1845) in Paris, the final illustration for his seminal publication The Pencil of Nature, which first illustrated the potential of the new medium of photography. Almost two centuries later, it is still impressive, perhaps even more impressive, to see the once exotic pineapple still perfectly preserved on paper.


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