At-Large correspondents, CIA and Rives Granade, visited the inaugural Paris Photo art fair in Los Angeles last weekend at Paramount Studios. Paris Photo is an international art fair of photography held annually in Paris. Their reputation as one of the leading photo fairs has grown steadily since their first fair in 1997. They decided to bring their je ne sais quoi to the US (thank you!) and staged their first American fair in Los Angeles at a location that looked like New York. Ooh la la!
CIA: First let’s talk about the venue because it’s really hard not to. Paris Photo LA was located at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood and took place on 3 diff sound stages and on location in the “New York City” back lot where galleries inhabited various cafes, apartments and storefronts. A person could walk from the financial district to the lower east side in under 30 seconds! Wow! Timewarp!
Productions are still filmed there which made for an exciting buzz. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see a person wearing an enormous shark head riding around in a golf cart. It was a fun layout to navigate, albeit a little distracting. On the weekend, it had a music festival vibe complete with long lines at the food trucks.
RG: Paris Photo on the Paramount Pictures movie set had plenty of tasty treats for the young, old, and deranged alike. Some of my highlights included the KONZETT Gallery from Austria which had a powerful display of Vienna Actionism photos. Most of the images documented the rituals of the movement’s main protagonists Otto Muehl, Gunter Bruce, and Herman Nitsch. One of the more impressive pieces was a wall comprised of 60 silver gelatin prints, all precisely framed, depicting Rudolf Schwarzkogler and Michael Epp’s “6th Action” which took place in the spring of 1966. All of the photos were printed in 1972/73, three years after Schwarzkogler committed suicide, and signed by Gunter Brus, Edith Adam and Hermann Nitsch. The photos were nicely composed, exposed, etc., lending weight to the fact that the documentation of an action was a prime consideration for Schwarzkogler from the beginning. After all, the performances were about aesthetics too. Priced at $390,000, the 60 photo piece seemed like a nice deal for a museum.
CIA: Yah, I agree, the Konzett gallery presentation was intense. The photos were installed in a grid from floor to ceiling and it was overwhelming. It was like being in a GG Allin nightmare/fantasy. Some of the photos while being totally graphic crossed over into abstraction, maybe because my brain couldn’t compute what was going on anymore and I was flat-lining… in a good way.
RG: Another piece in Konzett’s booth, very powerful photo of genius?, criminal, and psychopath Otto Meuhl.
CIA: Over in Stage 5 were the heavy hitters: Gagosian, M+B, Regen Projects and others. Galerie 1900 2000 from Paris had a lovely selection of Man Rays. Wow. It’s always special to see Man Ray works in vivo, and they did a nice job of laying out the works so that there was a nice visual rhythm to the presentation.
RG: Some beautiful little abstract photos by Osamu Shiihara graced the booth of MEM Gallery from Tokyo. The prints were from the 1930’s and I have no idea if Shiihara knew what Man Ray or Moholy-Nagy were doing with photography at the time, but it sure looked like he did.
CIA: Part of the Sound and Vision Series included an ongoing screening of Chris Marker’s La Jetee. I have always loved this movie. Brilliant!
RG: Of course Brian Bress represented Los Angeles quite well at Cherry and Martin with his video “portraits” that played with such painterly problems as the relationship between figure/ground and the nature of abstraction. Always clever and never without humor, watching Bress do his thing is not painful.
CIA: I noticed that alot of work had outer space themes, Xippas had some amazing photos of the moon that were documentary on the one hand but totally surreal on the other, and the grouping of photos did something quite nice together.
CIA: M+B had crazy big framed works that looked like constellations. They were stark black and white and from a distance they looked like photos of deep space; however, upon approaching the work it became apparent that the surface was actually a white powdery substance sprinkled in varying degrees on velvet. The medium listed on the corresponding label revealed that it was cocaine on velvet. Pretty cool looking… waste of drugs???? I guess the artist can add that into the production costs.
RG: Can’t remember where I saw this one, but it’s nice. Courbet meets Magritte meets Hans Peter-Feldmann meets . . .
CIA: Flatland Gallery out of Amsterdam was tucked away in a corner of the New York Backlot in what looked like a garage in an alley. Inside was a lovely film by Johan Grimonprez, a surreal Hitchcockian meditation that was beautiful and odd.
RG: There’s a soft place in my heart for this Malick Sidibé photo from 1963 picturing a brother and sister dancing together on Christmas night. Beautiful. This photo is so popular for Sidibé that he just can’t stop printing it. This particular one seems to have no edition and was signed a few month ago. I have no idea what it was selling for, contact Magnin-A gallery for price.
CIA: Honorable (aka guilty pleasure) nomination goes to Danziger Projects for bringing some nice Warhol Polaroids and to Magnin-A for bringing a collection of small vintage Malick Sidibe photos from the 60s-70s.
RG: Hamilton’s Gallery from London gets vote for best booth design. Building a strange kind of faux living room situation complete with seating and coffee tables. They had an assortment of very classy photos as well. Pictures from Irving Penn’s cigarette series and Helmut Newton’s polaroids were some of the highlights. The large Newton ass photo below would make a nice addition to anyone’s drawing room.
RG: These guys seemed to be enjoying Hamilton’s vibe. Irving Penn on the wall above their heads.
CIA: All in all, I would have to say that the French know what’s up. They’ve got style and there’s no denying that. The fair was spot on and some of the booths could have easily been mistaken for a museum show. Bad-Ass Good times were had by all! Jungle Curry at Jitlada down the street was a perfect end to the night. FIN!
Contributed by CIA
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