AIPAD Photography Show Recap
By Ashley Yu
Along the Hudson River, in the light of a pale blue dusk, is AIPAD’s Annual Photography Show at Pier 94. It was a hectic week for the New York art world. Regardless of the Tribeca Film Festival and the grand opening of the Shed at Hudson Yards, there was nowhere else in the city that was as exciting as the Photography Show at Pier 94—the place to be. With over 300 artists and photographers including nearly 100 of the world’s finest art galleries, spanning all 57,000 square feet of the venue, the Photography Show is the largest and oldest photography exhibition in America. This art fair is one of the only places where Robert Frank’s monochromatic yet foreboding images of America during the height of the Cold War can sit adjacent to Meaghann Ripenhoff’s elegant cyanotypes, that echo the ripples of the ocean.
Bustling with over 2000 enthusiastic visitors on the exclusive opening preview on April 3, the success of the AIPAD’s Photography Show is undeniable. One of the highlights this year is the return of acclaimed photographer Alec Soth with images from his latest book I Know How Furiously Your Heart is Beating and his curation of a special exhibition titled “A Room For Solace.” Dripping in melancholy, the photographic subjects he captured and selected for the exhibition all contain his signature intimate yet solitary air. His images make you want to give him a hug. You can read our exclusive interview with the enigmatic photographer Alec Soth here.
Along the same vein of intimate vulnerability is Lissa Rivera’s series “The Silence of Spaces” who is also the curator for the Museum of Sex. In an accidental discovery of an abandoned building that was once an all-male Catholic seminary, photographs of her non-binary partner and muse, BJ Lillis, incorporates the intense discussion of androgyny and masculinity in the lens of religious iconography, particularly in such a historically-charged setting. Images of BJ standing confidently in an arched doorway in uniform or nude in a run-down basketball court are just as tender and compelling as her previous series “Beautiful Boy”, if not more so.
One of the most unforgettable series was Oman Imam’s exposé covering the torture inflicted on Syrian asylum seekers, that Imam himself was a victim of. With a majority of the photographs from “Live, Love, Refuge” eerily left untitled, Imam places the captions below. Handwritten by the former captives themselves, the people regale the horrific violence that the refugees have endured. With the constant inundation of news headlines on the Syrian War for the past few years, it is arguable that the public has become immune to the numbers and statistics of war. Yet Imam’s brutally honest images force us to confront the grotesque and inhumane treatment of people, and you cannot look away.
These are only instances of the immense diversity of artists and photographers that have been welcomed and celebrated at this year’s edition of the Photography Show. From the political to the personal, the melancholic to the cheeky, it is simultaneously inspiring and empowering to see the infinite talent and unprecedented platform for artists and photographers alike: it feels like a celebration for everyone who seeks solace and excitement behind the lens of a camera.
In comparison to previous editions, AIPAD’s Photography Show has streamlined the venue to create a cozier and more coherent atmosphere. This year, the show introduced Project Spaces-- a section dedicated to a singular theme, project or artist. From Larry Sulton’s surreal images of California’s pornography industry to Pipo Nguyen-duy’s view from the same hotel window for three years, the new configuration is vastly different from previous editions. After speaking to one of the gallerists, though re-organizing the layout was something people definitely noticed, the show went off without a hitch. As they continue to work out the kinks, the 40th edition next year will be the best year yet.
Congratulations to AIPAD for the resounding success of their 39th edition of the Photography Show. We, at Musée, would like to thank Tim Hendrickson from SmithBucklin, Margery Newman from Nicole Straus Public Relations, as well as AIPAD for partnering with us. We can’t wait for next year.