Christmas Special: Paris Photo 2017

 

Twenty years since its’ inaugural fair at the Grand Palais in 1997, Paris Photo is still captivating artists from around the world, welcoming a record 64,542 visitors through its’ doors this year at its’ 21st edition. Here, we look at personal highlights from the fair, including the Aperture Photobook Awards and four students showcased under the Paris Photo Carte Blanche.

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Amidst the 189 exhibitors were New York’s Aperture Foundation, London’s Flowers and Michael Hoppen Galleries, Taka Ishii of Tokyo and Paris’ Du Jour Agnes B. Gallery, who’s sensational exhibitions of Chad Moore and Jacques Henri Lartigue are now extended until January 13th. Selected publishers present at the fair included Damiani, Dewi Lewis, MACK, Steidl and Taschen, with book signings by David Lynch, Todd Hido and Alec Soth punctuating the weekend.

For the past five years, the Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards have been presented at Paris Photo, celebrating the photobook’s contribution to the evolving narrative of photography. Three prizes are awarded for First PhotoBook, PhotoBook of the Year, and Photography Catalogue of the Year, which were each won respectively by Mathieu Asselin (Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation, Verlag Kettler), Dayanita Singh (Museum Bhavan, Steidl) and Mattie Boom and Hans Roseboom (New Realities: Photography in the 19th Century, Rijiksmuseum).

Included in our personal highlights of the Aperture PhotoBook Awards Shortlist are Deep Springs by Sam Contis; Hermitage by Margo Ovcharenko; Rayon Vert by Senta Simond, and White Night by Feng Li.

Image © Sam Contis.

Image © Sam Contis.

Academics, labour and self-government - these are the "three pillars" upon which Deep Springs is founded. At least, this applies to the isolated all-male liberal arts college east of Sierra Nevada, which remains America's smallest higher education institute. Sam Contis' work, published by MACK, is an exploration of masculinity, myth, and representations of the West, weaving together her own photographs of the students and surrounding desert landscape with historical images from the school's own archive.

Images © Margo Ovcharenko.

Images © Margo Ovcharenko.

Born in Krasnodar, Russia, Margo Ovcharenko's work deals with romance, sexuality, and the subjective interpretation of personal experience. Made when Ovcharenko rented her first room, many images focus on the surface of flesh "to show the materiality of the body, but also a metaphor for a kind of friction with the real world that it has". In some photographs her subjects reenact childhood memories of being punished by their parents or teachers, teasing at the consequences of these actions in relation to ones' capacity to empathise or engage amongst others.

Images © Senta Simond.

Images © Senta Simond.

Rayon Vert is the name of an optical phenomenon caused by the refraction of light off the earth's atmosphere during sunset; it has been used by writers and filmmakers as well as a metaphor for the pursuit of intimacy. Senta Simond's adaption facilitates her own investigation of the often-elusive ability to imbue an image of another person with emotion and meaning, beyond typical depictions of the nude. Her self-published collection explores the nature of portraiture and form through photographing her friends with an acute eye for communicative intimacy. 

Images © Feng Li.

Images © Feng Li.

White Night, Feng Li's first phonebook, offers both an inventory of characters and fragments of the street, and a personal statement by the photographer on the surreal nature of everyday life. The China-based street photographer captures unique moments of absurdity, often using the camera's flash to isolate and intensify the subject. Recurring themes include animals, children, and dreamlike, telling details of found objects and spaces, while handling the delicate publication by Jiazazhi Press leaves fingerprints and smudge marks, a first indication of the compelling messiness of the world contained within.

Before Paris Photo opens, submissions are open for students to submit and exhibit their work under Carte Blanch. This opportunity ... (outline perks / overview). The four spotlight photographers this year were Alexey Shylk (Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts), George Selley (London College of Communication), Leon Billerbeck (Bauhaus University Weimar) and William Lakin (Middlesex University).

Images © Alexey Shylk (Left, The Appleseed Necklace), George Selley (Right, Vault 7)

Images © Alexey Shylk (Left, The Appleseed Necklace), George Selley (Right, Vault 7)

"In the Appleseed Necklace I am talking about creativity, craftsmanship, diligence and typical recycling that were natural to the people living in conditions of constant shortages. It was a time when one had either to find a way to “snatch” what was needed or to make it out of the accessible materials. Although today this lifestyle is more often seen in domestic decorations, I am trying to revive in my photographs what once was a vital necessity" - Alexey Shylk.

"My photographs in this series specifically follow a “familiarization” document, that directs covert agents arriving in Frankfurt – where the Centre for Cyber Intelligence Europe branch is based.  I decided to travel to Frankfurt and follow the guidelines, as if I was a covert agent myself. Using a medium format film camera, I worked with an actor to photograph all the steps from the document – the captions work as sections of text from the document explaining each step. Even the concept of exploring a city photographically through a top secret CIA document was an interesting process in itself" - George Selley.

Images © Leon Billerbeck (Left, Foreign Landscapes), William Lakin (Right, A Glimmer of Accountability).

Images © Leon Billerbeck (Left, Foreign Landscapes), William Lakin (Right, A Glimmer of Accountability).

“Foreign Landscapes is a collection of photographs depicting hazy, mystical but colorful shapes and forms, which remind of wide natural landscapes. Each photograph has its own strange atmosphere, while all of them share the tension between harmony and undefinable matter. Therefore, the images create a surreal world, which can neither be grasped nor defined, leaving the viewer as a stranger with the desire to enter this foreign micro cosmos" - Leon Billerbeck.

"A Glimmer of Accountability spans the course of two years and two major political events. Beginning in 2015 the project is a response to life under the influence of a confusing and surprising political period. In the so called post-truth era of populist politics and hyper-consumerism this work seeks to create a feeling of unease and tension by framing the landscape, every day objects and young adults in a way that obscures details and implies artificiality. Both the presidential campaign and Brexit were won on appealing narratives, lies and the convenient stretching of truth. Whilst a lot of the trickery involved in these campaigns were not necessarily new phenomena’s, it does appear that what was unique was an almost complete disregard of facts, figures and expert knowledge in favour of a narrative which people could connect with" - William Lakin.

The 22nd edition of Paris Photo will take place between 7th - 11th November 2018 at the Grand Palais. For now, we at the Pupil Sphere wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!